Monday, 1 August 2011

To barter or not to barter - what's your pattern?

Here's one of Nigel's posts which missed being published as our moving plans changed. In a bid to turn our cherished possessions into hard cash we have been to three carboot sales, held an impromptu grass verge sale and one garage sale. As we are fascinated by people's behaviour this has been a rich seam to mine.

Sorting out the clutter
As we planned to 'downsize' from our current home there are some possessions we no longer need to keep. We have given our children back their 'stuff' left in our roof. They spent a  hilarious day with us: a bridesmaid dress for a 14 year old girl was tried on by 20 and 30 year old women, and one man! Old school reports were read out and re-discovered, favourite toys longingly played with and lots of stuff finally thrown away!

We had to be equally ruthless with our own collection of 'things that will come in useful one day'. I have inherited a 'hold onto everything' mentality passed down from my mother and her mother and we still have some things belonging to her mother too.

Car boot sales 
Our memory of the last car boot we went to some years ago was of the crowd of people who surround your car on arrival before you can even get out and ask through the window "Have you got any military memorabilia? Vinyl records? Old toys?" or whatever it is these habituees of car boot sales are collecting. The actual experience was much better than the memory. Yes, these collectors were there, but they were patient and friendly and happy to wait or come back if we had a little treasure for them buried somewhere in the car. 

Bartering stories
Bargaining was very much a hit and miss affair. From those who would look to knock 20p off an item you wanted to sell for 50p to people who would ask for a price and ignore the invitation to suggest a lower one by just walking away. Our greatest delight (we hate throwing things away and are always happy for them to find a new home) was the sale of a very large soft toy Tasmanian Devil to a young boy. He clearly wanted the devil and his mother encouraged him to ask us what we wanted for it. This had been in our roof and we had given it back to our daugther, only to have it dumped on us on the way to the sale with firm instructions to "get rid of it at any price!" We said to the young man, "What have you got?" He dug deep in his pocket and brought out £1.00 and a few pence. "That's just enough!" We said. He couldn't believe his luck and departed with the large soft toy in both hands. We felt a prick of guilt for his parents as if we had given him a tin drum and drumsticks. We hope they will be very happy together.

After 3 carboots we had worked out which items we didn't want to sell for 50p and which we never wanted to see again. These we took to a neighbour to sell at the church charity function, on the proviso that none of it came back to us!! The house sale may have fallen through but our home - and especially the loft - is feeling considerably lighter!


  1. Like your Car booting, Jenny and Nigel.

    That's something I'm trying to motivate myself to do and one of my friends offered to help me with that the other day.

    Sorry to hear that you moving plans fell through, but as you probably realise all things happen for a reason.

    Pleased to hear your relationship work is going so well.


  2. Good Luck Mavis I hope you have as much fun as we did. You seldom get to see and interact with so many different people in a short space of time. Jenny