The Boot Market

A day at the boot market


1. The Boot Market

Our children were fortunate enough to grow up in a large house with lots of space, and while that may be a good thing for youngsters, it can create problems. Just like the old adage, ‘work expands to fit the time available’ in our case it was ‘junk expands to fit the space available’.

There came a time when our offspring decided to strike out on their own. My daughter got married and moved into her own home, my eldest son decided to stay in the university town where he’d graduated, and my youngest son wanted his independence and a flat of his own.

The time had come then to sell our large house and move to a smaller, more manageable property. What would we do with all the unwanted things that had accumulated over the years? Unwanted perhaps, but kept just in case they might come in handy one day. Drawers full of bits and pieces such as odd castors, screws that had been sucked up by the vacuum cleaner and nobody knew where they came from, in short, junk.

Then there were the toys that had found their way under beds, on top of wardrobes or into the attic. The metal detector that hadn’t been used since the battery ran out, the guitar with only two strings missing, the horror make up kit, used only once on Christmas morning.

Some things were brand new. Birthday presents from well-meaning relatives who had no idea of the vagaries of teenage fashion. Christmas gifts of knick-knacks or hideous ornaments that both the giver and the recipient knew would never be hung on the wall. Too good to throw away though, so kept to be given to as a present to some poor unfortunate a few years hence.

It all had to go. Every Sunday, there was a large boot market held in a disused factory not far from us, that’s where it was all going. Our junk may well turn out to be someone else’s treasure and we might even make some cash! The following Saturday afternoon, my neighbour arrived with a battered, old Transit van that had seen better days, and we started to load up. First to go into the van was a couple of divan beds, complete with mattresses, followed by a rusty, old bicycle and a tatty, old wardrobe with missing handles.

Other, smaller articles packed the spaces left. There was the eight-track stereo tape recorder (still in working order) complete with ten cassettes, boxes of old vinyl records, trays of odd cups and saucers, ash trays and brass bits and pieces of bric-a-brac. Last to go on board was a pair of decorator’s pasting tables with some worn out bed sheets to cover them. They were going to be our market stall for the day.

The plan was to get a really early start in order to get a good pitch but like all the best laid plans of mice and men, this one went awry too. The alarm had been loaded, in a fit of enthusiasm, onto the van ready to be sold - £1.50 only, genuine plastic. So our early start, instead of cockcrow at five o’clock was nearer milking time at half past seven! Eventually we got going, my neighbour driving with a mattress in the passenger seat and my wife and I crammed into the back of the van along with the rest of the junk. After a ten-minute drive, we clattered over the cattle grid guarding the entrance to the old factory, and paid the £3.00 entrance fee to the old man on the gate.

Of course by now, all the best indoor pitches had been taken, so we had to settle for a corner of the car park which was being used for the overspill. Never mind, we’d catch the new arrivals as well as those on their way home. Every cloud has a silver lining.

Up went the two pasting tables, tastefully disguised with the old bed sheets, and we set out our wares in a fetching display, carefully arranged to attract the mu... punters. The bicycle, was propped up against our display in such a way that the buckled front wheel and missing spokes would not be apparent to the casual observer. Some of the better clothing was arranged on hangers at the back of the van.

Within minutes we had our first prospective customer who methodically probed our wares with a professional looking nicotine stained finger. “’Ow much the eight track, mate?” he enquired “Six quid” said I, nonchalantly, feigning disinterest. “Givya four” he snapped back.

Entering into the spirit of things, I told him how it had belonged to an old lady who’d suddenly gone deaf and needed the money for a hearing aid. My speech must have touched his conscience because he informed me that I was breaking his heart. In the end, we settled on a fiver provided the cassettes were part of the deal. I never did like Johnny Cash anyway. Other strange conversations interspersed with periods of inactivity punctuated the rest of the day. “Is this genuine?” I was asked of a fake Rolex watch, a souvenir from some best-forgotten holiday in Turkey. “I hope so mate, it cost me ten quid!” I quipped.

Astonishingly, he bought it for five pounds and became the proud owner of a genuine Rolex watch (made under license in Turkey) with a life time guarantee. The life of the watch that is.

By lunchtime, all this haggling and grandiose descriptions of our goods had made me quite thirsty. I’d just sold a tin of condensed soup to an incredulous youth that I’d managed to convince that he was holding in his hands the original model for an Andy Warhol painting. The price had been hastily altered from 6p to 60 cents. – “Look, it’s still got the US price on it!”

My neighbour wandered over to the nearby public house and came back with a tray loaded with glasses of beer. After a short break, we resumed business, which remained brisk. My neighbour even sold the beer glasses as souvenirs of Resolven for twenty pence each.

By about three o’clock, the beer I’d consumed was seeking an outlet, and I felt a strong call of nature. Leaving the stall in the capable hands of my second-in-command, as she referred to herself, I retired to the back of the factory where the toilets were situated.

On the way there, I was astonished to see my old eight-track stereo for sale on one of the stalls, marked up as a bargain at £20,00. The cassettes were for sale on another stall for a pound each. On the way back, I spotted the stereo on yet another stall, this time the asking price was £25.00 – and still a ‘bargain’.

Boot markets, it would seem, have two types of customer. The genuine bargain hunter, who despite his sophisticated air, remains as gullible as the rest of us, and the stallholders. What doesn’t get sold by the end of the day to the first category gets snapped up by the second to be resold next week. A valuable lesson in economics.

By about four o’clock, it was time to start packing up as we had very little left to sell except for a box of old videos. Most of them had been used for recording programmes from the TV, but nobody wanted to buy them even for 50p each. They were perfectly good for taping over though and I didn’t want to take them home. In the end, the whole box went in about half an hour. Simply by putting the price up to a pound each and hinting that there might be a ‘naughty’ movie or two in the box did the trick.

Counting up the takings when we got home, I was delighted to find that we’d taken just under £150,00. For what was just a load of old junk. I’m going back next week. I have to, to sell the junk I bought from the other traders before we left. Including my old eight-track stereo, which was sold back to me for £4.00!

Join MovellasFind out what all the buzz is about. Join now to start sharing your creativity and passion
Loading ...