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With the ever-increasing popularity of TV shows such as Antiques Roadshow, Antiques Road Trip, Bargain Hunt and Flog It, it’s not surprising that frequenting boot fairs, charity shops, antique and flea markets have become somewhat of a national obsession.  Let’s be honest, there’s nothing more fulfilling than having a good rummage is there? Who doesn’t love a bargain?  The exhilaration you get when, after hours of searching, bingo! Your beady eye suddenly fixates onto something that’s utterly unique and is just willing you to be snapped up and taken home.  Several years ago I had a habit of going into charity shops at any given opportunity – for me it was far more appealing than traipsing round uninspiring high street shops – (finding something quirky has always been my thing), plus it was a way of being able to purchase items without having to pay a fortune and not feel guilty in the process.  On one occasion, after a quick glance in the window of my local charity shop, a somewhat garish bright green vase caught my eye, without hesitation I bought it for £5, to my delight it turned out to be an Art Deco piece worth over £150!  I still have it now.  Sadly, these days, such lucky finds are hard to come by – the dealers/experts can distinguish what’s valuable and in vogue, leaving little opportunity for novices like me.

I’m currently psyching myself to do a boot fair this summer – it’s high time, my garage looks as if it’s been inhabited by an eccentric hoarder. It’s not that I want or need these items, I just haven’t gotten around to wading through the clutter and it’s such a daunting and mammoth task. The idea of just throwing it all away doesn’t sit right with me either, after all, one man’s trash is another man’s treasure – so I’ll be doing my bit for the environment by not consigning it all to landfill.   Soon I’ll have the enviable task of packing/wedging my car full to the brim with mounds of books, toys, ornaments and old clothes not to mention my fair share of junk that I’ve accumulated from charity shops over the years! I must admit the prospect of getting up at the crack of dawn on a Sunday morning to pitch up at my local farm fills me with dread, but I’ve done it before, albeit a long time ago and it’s not all bad if you follow certain rules…

Organisation is the key to your success (I wish I listened to my own advice!). Make sure you have everything boxed up the night before to avoid a mad panic at 5.30 in the morning.  The easiest way to display your wares is to use a folding pasting table, bring chairs so you can sit in comfort whilst you brace yourself for the stampede of excitable customers. To survive the day some refreshments will be a saving grace, wear appropriate clothing, there’s nothing more depressing if the weather turns.  You’ll need carrier bags as well as bubble wrap or newspaper to protect fragile items. Ensure you have float, a container for plenty of small change is crucial, believe me there’s nothing more frustrating than being handed a £20 note for an item priced at a mere 50p! A lockable cash tin for your takings is strongly advised. More importantly bring a friend along, you’re going to need someone to watch the stall – whilst you answer a call of nature – it’s a long day…You’ll also need an extra pair of hands to keep an eye on stock as the plague of locusts descend and rifle their way through your merchandise.  In all the chaos, it’s vital that you make a mental note of the cost you expect to sell your items for – any sign of hesitation will be deemed a sign of weakness, so stand firm – don’t let the professional hagglers get the better of you! Oh yes, don’t forget to bring your pitch fees – usually about £10-12 for a car, £18 for a van… otherwise all that effort would have been in vain.

So, whether you’re a buyer or a seller – it’s undeniably an excellent day out and a great way of making a bit of extra cash.  I guarantee you’ll embrace being part of the hubbub as people meander from one car boot stall to another in the fresh air, even better if the sun’s shining and you never know, if you arrive early enough you might just grab yourself that hidden treasure!

Words  by Emma Panetta – Big WOW Features

Holding a Boot Fair or Table Top sale?

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Click here to list your event.

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