Tuesday, April 19, 2011

British Word of the Day

Junk in the trunk...
Car boot/trunk sales or boot/trunk fairs are a mainly British form of market in which private individuals come together to sell household and garden goods.
The term refers to the selling of items from a car's boot (trunk). Although a small proportion of sellers are professional traders selling goods, or indeed browsing for items to sell, the goods on sale are often used but no longer wanted personal possessions. Car boot sales are a way of focusing a large group of people in one place to recycle still useful but unwanted domestic items that previously might have been thrown away.Father Harry Clarke, a Catholic priest from Stockport first introduced the car boot sale to the UK after seeing a similar event being held in Canada while on holiday there in the early 1970s.--(Wiki)

'There's a car-boot sale on Saturday,' Jacob told her.  'You might pick up a spade and suchlike...' Fate Takes a Hand

I have a weird thing about buying things from people.  I don't mind if the stuff is used or old or unwanted (in fact, it's way better if it is) which is why I love poking around in thrift stores and salvage shops.  Also, I don't mind Craigslist--where you get to see pictures of the goods, ask as many questions as you dare, then dicker by email and just have to pick-up.  But I am not a fan of yard sales--you know, standing in front of the owners of a thing (usually an overpriced and 'vintage' (ie. from the 80s) thing), looking it over properly and then and walking away.  I always feel like I'm communicating an insult in the line of 'You and your stuff are all rubbish.'  Which is silly, don't you agree?

So, even though I adore the idea of a car-boot sale, I know I'd be awful at them--I'm a squinch too shy and events like these need more outgoing types, I suppose.  

Has anyone heard of these in the U.S. (you know, outside major metropolitan areas catering to credulous tourists)?


  1. Well, there are giant flea markets in various places, but one town near here (Conklin, NY) has an annual town-wide sidewalk sale. It's like yard sales, but they print a map so you can see which houses are participating, and there are so many people milling around that the "squick" factor of inspecting the detritus of another person's life and rejecting it (and feeling like you're rejecting them) is reduced.

    That said, we've only gone once. Everyone has the ways they like to shop -- I'm a big fan of Marshall's, a chain of stores stocked with a wide range of goods (clothes, linens, pots & pans, etc.) that were overstocked or just didn't sell at other stores. Other people hate Marshall's. And mostly I don't like yard sales (the proportion of stuff I might want to buy to stuff I know I would never buy) is way too low) but my mother was addicted to them. Go figure.

  2. My MIL and SIL are addicted to yard sales but they lift their skirts a bit about thrift stores--so maybe, it's reassuring to see the source of their things and I know they love to bargain. On a side note, I love Marshall's and the like...

  3. Yard sales aren't my thing either...but if I go with someone else, then it's not so bad - you can pretend your shopping partner is the one doing the rejecting. I can't remember the last time I actually went to one. I can, however, tell you the last time I went to Goodwill(last week) and the last time I asked Betty Keira to keep an eye out for something at her Goodwill (yesterday).