We decided we would sell some things at a boot fair today. For my non-UK readers who might not know what a boot fair is, just imagine a huge garage sale in a field, with lots of people all selling their stuff at the same time; by my reckoning there were about 200 stalls there today – the usual mixture of the general public and a few business traders. The disadvantage compared to garage sales is that you have to pack your stuff up and take it somewhere, so obviously you’ll only be able to sell what will fit in your vehicle. The advantage however is that these are usually large organised events that are well publicised, so you should get a much larger number of customers than you would with a garage sale. We have done several of these before.
What I hate about doing them:
1) They start so early – we had to be at our one at 6am today. Not good on a Sunday.
2) They take over your whole weekend. Saturday is spent sorting, pricing, and loading up the car, followed by an early night. Sunday, they finish around lunchtime, then you spend most of the afternoon trying to figure out what to do with the things you didn’t sell.
3) You have to make a choice between partial dehydration, or being forced to use the disgusting portaloos on site.
What I love about doing them:
1) You get rid of a lot of junk that has been lurking around the house. This is particularly good with the kids’ stuff. My kids never want to get rid of anything, but the lure of cash is a good persuader. They each keep all the money from whatever they sell of theirs – although sometimes they run off and spend their earnings at other stalls almost as quick as they are making it, so it can end up up feeling like all we have done is swap our junk for other people’s.
2) Unlike most other family activities, this is one that ends with us all having a bit more money than we started with.
3) It’s a great opportunity for the kids to learn some business/work skills. Together we choose what to sell and price it. They learn about customer service skills. They handle cash and give change. Most of all they learn about negotiation – at least half of the customers will offer lower than the asking price, and I let the children handle their own negotiations for their things; they used to just agree to any offer, but now they will often come in with a counter price, or simply refuse if they’re not happy with the offer.
4) It’s a really great place for people watching. The motley assortment of people streaming by, clutching their purchases, are very entertaining. A lot of them bring their dogs too, so it’s good for dog watching too.
Overall, as long as the weather holds, it’s a good thing to do. If you’re looking for the best prices for your goods, then you’re probably not going to get them there – people visit boot fairs for dirt cheap bargains. But if you just want to get rid of some stuff, and make a bit of pocket money, then there are worse places you could spend a morning, particularly a lovely sunny morning like we had today.