One thing we have in common in both cultures is the tendency to amass too many things. I admit the Americans win the contest as far as the amount of stuff we accumulate, especially since we have a significantly higher population (about 4 times that of the UK) with sufficient disposable income and more access to pointless products. Any nation that foists things like the Snuggie, which is basically a bathrobe (dressing gown) worn backwards, onto the buying public has a lot to answer for.
I am going to digress a bit. While I was researching this blog, I found an interesting advert in the UK for a model kit for a Lamborghini.
So, there is no price for the kit. You get some of the parts every month (24 packs). And when do you get the build guide? Five years later? I appreciate the time and patience it would take to build a model, but in the space of two years, wouldn’t it be better to build an actual car? What am I not getting?
Anyway, bringing it back to the subject at hand, both countries have various outlets of relief when we are buried alive in our crap. We have charity shops, giveaways to friends and relatives, eBay, Freecycle, and jumble sales to name a few avenues. But I want to compare and contrast two institutions.
First we have the British car boot sale. For those not privvy to British terminology, the boot is the car’s trunk. People would put their stuff in their cars, gather someplace like a car park (parking lot) of a school, church, or downtown area. A lot of times they set up their stuff on tables and tarpaulins by their cars. Sunday is usually the day for it. Summertime, when the weather is nicer, is usually high car boot sale season, but more places are offering indoor “car boot” sales throughout the year in community halls. And I used a very important word. Community. People gather in one spot, so it is a one-stop shop for the bargain hunter.
One drawback to the the seller has to watch out for are the rise of professional dealers who will try to strip you of your good inventory before you even open and resell it for a profit. However, car boot sales, if done right, can be an art form, and you can make a fair bit of money while making space in your home.
I also want to share a little ditty called “Car Boot Sale” by the great artist called, simply, Bill. Nobody seems to remember this song, but this was a staple on Steve Wright’s afternoon show in the 90’s on BBC Radio One and has become one of my most dreaded earworms. It was a good thing that I did not qualify for the EOD flight (Explosive Ordinance Disposal) because of my lack of depth perception. I can imagine what would have happened if I had to deactivate a bomb, and this was at the forefront of my mind. Go to 1:30 to find out some of the glorious things you can find at a car boot sale.
Now let’s compare this to the yard sale or garage sale. Here, you have to go to other people’s houses to look at their stuff. This isn’t necessarily a bad thing because, if you are in the market for something large, like frat house quality furniture or a 6-foot wide mirrored Budweiser sign, you may find something to suit your needs.
I don’t do garage sales because I don’t want to deal with the general public when it comes to selling my stuff. Truthfully, I don’t want to deal with the general public. Case in point, I am not a haggler. That is the Boffin’s territory. He’s the one who can get a manager at a car dealership to beg for mercy. The Boffin, armed with spreadsheets and car prices from the inventories of other dealers, can make anyone in auto sales weep and curl in the fetal position. Negotiations are important for big ticket items like cars and houses, but I have no interest in arguing whether a blouse is worth 50 cents or a quarter.
Anyway, to compound the haggling, garage sale shoppers are an interesting breed with the motto, “It doesn’t hurt to ask.” They look around, see what you have, and think, “Well, they don’t have any fishing gear on the tables, but that does not mean there is no fishing gear. I know, I will ask if they have any.” To someone like me, that would be annoying because, if I wanted to sell my fishing gear, I would have put out my fishing gear. Even better is when they SEE something that is not obviously part of the sale and want to put an offer on it.
“That guy. Gray hair, glasses, blue pants. How much you want?”
“That’s my grandfather.”
However, there are people who would sell anything they own, if the price is right. I am just not part of the Art of the Deal crowd who enjoys that sort of thing. And I am certainly not putting anyone down who enjoys shopping and getting a good deal at these respective venues. I just don’t want to be the one who sells them the stuff because I am not cut out for it.
To me, the whole point of these sorts of endeavors is to just get rid of your stuff. I just want to make a list of the items, box it up, take it Goodwill, and claim the deduction on our taxes. And I try not to bring home too much else to add to the donation pile, especially anything labelled As Seen on TV.