Sunday, August 28, 2011

Car Boot Sale

Following some dos and don'ts from a helpful car booting website:-

…get everything ready the night before… and pack the car

It was not our own personal car boot sale adventure, but one of our church’s “inside out” Sundays where we leave the security of our four walls and do something in the community. We were fundraising for Equipe - an international charity that works in different parts of the world.

Our house…our car boot was deemed to be the dropping of point for boxes of books, DVDs, toys, jigsaw puzzles, bric-a-brac and home-baking. It’s not a big car boot (as we found out one weekend trying to get mum’s wheelchair in it) and the boxes just kept coming. I think it had a Tardis moment!

There was some concerns that tempting glimpses of car boot treasure might prove too much for some passers-by. I have had bricks lobbed through car windows before but never in inverness, and never to take a newly washed soft toy on show. A blanket flung over the boxes in the back seat concealed the goodies within.

...check the pockets of sale clothing for money and other valuables

We found “a valuable” not in a pocket, but folded away in a book. No ten pound note treasure but a letter written to us by a friend a few years ago. He had been going through a rough time trying to make faith work miracles in his messed up life. He was a regular visitor to the house and shared meals with us. He wrote the letter simply to say thanks for looking after him.

...arrive early

7.00 am was too early! It wasn’t too early for the organisers who had sold us two table spaces. I couldn’t believe the volume of traffic there before us! Parking in the disabled spaces was permitted to unload stuff. You could tell the traders and the old hands who had bought trolleys and other things with wheels attached. Joe and I made what felt to be a hundred trips back and forward from car to table.

...choose a sunny pitch away from big muddy puddles

Seeing as it was inside we didn’t need to worry about sunny spots or puddles. We were allocated two tables somewhere in the middle of the room. I don’t know whether there is any advantage in being at the end of the row, or near a door.

On one side of us was a lady with lots of home-designed jewellery. She had a small selection of second hand clothes. Behind us was a lady from South Africa, with the same kind of stuff as us, who was seriously tormented by the smell of our home baking.

At 7.45 the doors were locked and we had until 8.00 to set up. If you happened to sleep in you lost your table.

At 8.00 the queuing public were let loose!

...go with someone else (it's so much easier as you can take it in turns to serve and it's more fun with two

As this was a church venture, people were lined up to take their turn. Joe and I did the early shift and planned to be back for the end. It seemed to me that the women did much of the work while the men went browsing the stalls, or found a cosy spot in the café to read a book. Not so Adam who had come to visit the in-laws and did his fair share of manning the stall. He had an easy banter with folk.

...have a look at your stall from the other side, the buyer's perspective - Is everything displayed to its full potential?

We had a lot of stuff. We could easily have outfitted a charity shop. There was too little space to display everything. (Not that some of us didn’t try!) The DVDs went really well – on account of them being really good ones! Many of the children’s books also sold well restoring my faith that some kids like reading. The baking didn’t really shift until later on in the morning. I guess that chilli and coriander sausage rolls are not great breakfast fare.

When you have a car boot behind you, I suppose you can leave things in to bring out later, but with the car boot and the car parked the other side of the car park (you had to shift it from the disabled spaces once you had unpacked) it wasn’t an option.

...resist the urge to price things with labels. It may seem like a nice idea but it puts buyers off - let them ask the price and perhaps haggle with you.

We bought a whole load of sticky labels and stuck them on everything, although we were open to haggling and making deals. I didn’t do the E-bay search to find out what was a reasonable price to charge so I think we priced many items too low. It is quite possible that some of our buyers were from other stalls buying cheap and selling on for a healthy profit.

I know for sure were selling cupcakes at 20p where another stall, a few rows away was selling them same size cakes for £1.

...keep in mind why you are there.

We were raising money for Equipe. We don’t know how much was raised, but some rather large notes were floating about. The next sale, planned for some time in January will be purely a Kerr affair.

A by-product of the car boot sale, however, was not about money at all but about relationship building. Seeing people in a context other than a usual Sunday meeting is always good. There was a strong sense of family!

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