Boot sales! You got to love them on a beautiful sunny morning. My usual one, at Ardleigh in Colchester, was absolutely packed with bargain hunters today. I queued for 45 minutes to get in. That’s a first. My daughter was selling and had arrived at 6.30, but she queued just the same.
If you are on a budget, boot sales are worth getting up early for. I know people who never go to them. Maybe they imagine them as one huge jumble sale. It’s true, they can be a bit like that but, amongst the junk, there are new and nearly new bargains to help every family stretch their money. Here’s how.
1) New parents: babies don’t care if their clothes and equipment aren’t new. They grow too quickly for their clothes to get worn out. Today I saw an almost new travel cot for £20, a baby bath for £1 and a steriliser for £3 and I wasn’t even looking at baby stuff!
2) Kids: although I would say it is generally more heavily used, it is possible to pick up some great children’s clothes and shoes for pennies. Toys, books and bikes were all available in quantity this morning.
3) First homers: if you already have the cost of rent or a mortgage to worry about, you possibly don’t have the means to kit your abode out from new. You can get kitchen equipment, bedding, furniture, cushions, pictures, curtains and lots more. Of course, you don’t have to be a first home buyer or new tenant to benefit from the cheap purchase of other folks’ cast offs!
4) Students going to university: similarly you can easily kit out a student from a boot sale. Pots, pans, cookery books, bedding can all be had at a fraction of the price of new items.
5) DIYers: there are always plenty of decent tools on offer from some of the traders, as well as new pots of paint and items such as paintbrushes.
6) Foodies: in recent years boot sales have started to attract more traditional market stalls, selling great value fruit and veg, sweets, cakes and drinks just out of their best before dates as well as fresh meat. You can also pick up household items such as loo roll and household cleaners.
7) Gardeners: I have bought some excellent plants at boot sales over the years – much cheaper than garden centre prices. The professional sellers offer good quality products. The sales are also good for garden tools.
8) eBayers: if, like me, you try to make a little extra cash on eBay, then boot sales offer the best place for cheap stock. You will get sellers who are wildly optimistic when pricing their items but many who under charge. I watch out for those who look as if they have had a proper clear out and just want rid. I hit gold today; a lady selling brand new clothes with the tags still on. I asked how much she wanted for a new Phase Eight dress priced at £120 and she said £3!!!! When I had picked myself up off the floor I bought that along with a gorgeous Dorothy Perkins dress and two Tops for £10 – all new with their labels intact. Almost £200 worth! There are also antiques and collectibles for those who have a good eye – it is worth doing some research.
9) Fashionistas: as above. If you need clothes for home or work you can get a lot for your money. You can also find decent costume jewellery, makeup and toiletries.
10) Families searching for fun: DVDs, computer games, board games, bikes, garden swings and trampolines, I have seen them all. If you give the kids a strict budget it can be a fun morning out as well as teaching them the value of money and how to get the most from their cash. Avoid the bouncy castles if you can or they will spend their cash in five minutes flat…
10) Sellers: finally, if you need to make some money whilst clearing your junk, boot sales are perfect!
So… Easter is coming up and there will be boot sales aplenty. If you have never been this is the time to try!