The simple Car Boot (or if you are in the US, the trunk); an area of your vehicle used for transporting suitcases and groceries, housing spare wheels and dirty kitbags. And if you’re lacking in seat space whilst trying to drive to that all important party, perhaps a small, willing friend might be found in there too (it has happened…).
However, to many here in Old Blighty, the noun for this humble storage space has been verbed-up into a national institution, with us spending weekends ‘booting’ as ‘booters’ and…um…’bootees’…
In America, it seems everyone loves a yard sale, a chance to offload some unwanted items and make a few extra bucks from the comfort of your own home, without having to wait for the eBay auction to end.
But us Brits would generally balk at the idea of inviting some random shoppers round to traipse through the prize petunias and churn up the freshly-cut lawn. Besides, one does not want the neighbours to see what type of tat we’ve had stashed in the attic!
So instead, we fill our car boots with precision that would make even a world-champion Tetris player envious, and trundle off to a nearby playing field before the sun comes up to do battle with…
The Bargain Hunter Horde!
Sunday morning. Known as THE day for ritual and worship by hardcore devotees following time-old tradition. Entering the sacred space of a car boot arena is not for the faint hearted.
In fact, anyone who has acted on the saying ‘one man’s rubbish…’ and decided to embark on making a little extra cash at a boot sale, will attest to Armageddon taking place right outside the gates before 8am.
Ever wondered what the zombie apocalypse will look like? Then head down to the local school field ten minutes to sale time and just watch them clamouring and slavering to get in. These people are animals!
So, it’s a good idea to research your foe. Get ready for the onslaught!
Luckily, there are distinct species of Booters that you can be on the lookout for, either to prepare your counter-attack or to jump in your vehicle and lock the doors!
THE SNIFFER DOG:
setting up shop opening the door, it’s likely you’ll have them licking the windows and trying to get a scent of your flesh items. Possibly living on-site, these sniffers know their stuff and are looking to adorn their own pitches.
Although brazen, and at times intimidating, when surrounding your car, the best way to rid yourself of this type is re-direction. With a general love of ‘costume’ jewellery and handbags, a firm NO to their inquiries and telling them that the woman on the end had some gorgeous necklaces usually does the trick!
THE FRONT LINER:
Gone are the days that you can pick up an unknown Rembrandt for £1.50 but this hungry First Wave seem to have forgotten the fact and, like they’re in training for Black Friday, want to swallow up everything as quickly as possible, for fear of losing out.
Best advice is to fill your space with your most expensive items…and your worst. Chances are, they will be so blinded by the array of material nourishment that they’ll not slow down long enough to weigh up why they are parting with their cash and you’ll have emptied two boxes of
garbage quality merchandise in the first half hour.
Plus, they’ll be satiated and loaded to the hilt, so will not be bothering you until next week!
This specimen paces along the periphery, always looking ready to pounce and take you unawares. Possibly part of a larger pack, there is a chance they are looking for an opportunity to swoop in and relieve you of some items but it is more likely they are ear-wigging on your patter to pass along pertinent information to THE VETERANS.
Course of action: maintain eye-contact. Even throw in a cheery wave from time to time and if you want to really put them off balance, wander over in a moment of spending calm and ask how their stall is going. They’ll begin robotically walking backwards and re-calibrate a new area to patrol.
Another side-kick of the VETERAN, this serial returner has zero intention of buying anything. Instead, they feign interest for anywhere from 2 to 10 minutes at each attack, getting you on side, before having a sudden bout of cold feet and needing ‘to have a think’.
Woe betide you still have the desired item when they fly past again – this will only fuel the information they pass on that can be used as leverage later.
Best defense: hide! Not necessarily yourself but the object in question. Concoct some story, should they ask, about how you sold it minutes after they left and wish them better luck next time.
Some of my favourites of the Booter species, they will try to knock you down with wit or outright ridiculous reasoning.
– How much for the table and chairs?
– I’ll give you two…
– If you manage to sell that for eight quid, I’ll stand on top of your car, pull down my pants and do a dance!
Laughing seems to eradicate this lot rather swiftly, the level and form of which you can decide upon. With the former example, I chose incredulous sarcasm. The latter, nervous giggles whilst scanning for an escape route. I’m just glad I never made a sale…
Many moons ago, when politeness prevailed in the world, this breed would not have dared to make themselves known. But living in the outrage culture of modern society, they have garnered a strong foothold and like to raise their voice to let everyone know about it.
Attacking verbally, they have a limited vocabulary, consisting mainly of loud outbursts such as ‘Ow much?!” and “You ‘avin’ a laugh?” Occasionally, they will shout their displeasure to an ally across the field but they rarely join ranks beyond this.
Fortunately, they are generally so offended by your prices and/or selection that they move on quickly. Simply reply literally with “£2 and no I don’t think getting up at the crack of dawn on a Sunday for the sole purpose of ridding my cupboards of some junk is at all funny, especially when presented with such ludicrous questions, all of which could be answered by reading the signs…”
A tricky customer, this know-it-all is not to be trusted. They will probably select an item and tell you it is worth much more than listed, possibly pointing out characteristics that ‘prove’ their assessment to be correct and even offering a higher price.
But beware, this false security not only lowers your defences but also opens you up for a longer con where they’ve spotted another, actual valuable commodity that they may ask to be thrown in as a bundle. Bolstered by their generosity, you could be forgiven for saying okay.
Aside from having 100% knowledge of your merchandise and contradicting them, the only way to minimise a fleecing is to play to their ego and stand firm. Lots of flattery for the information they’ve brought your way, followed by further questions about the astounding knowledge might deflect their true agenda but many have fallen to this low-key threat.
They visit every week, know all the regulars and have them on speed dial and are serious shoppers looking for a bargain that they can spin into gold at another venue or online.
This boss-level Booter is all about grinding you down. Persistent, resistant and cold, it takes skill and determination to sell at a price you want when they attack. So good are they at haggling and confusing, you could find yourself paying them to take your wares away!
Should you suspect a VETERAN threat, start higher with your counter-attack to reduce potential losses (some of which will be inevitable) or use a combination bundle for a chance to cause extra damage to their wallet. However, remember if BOOMERANG or CRUISER have been involved, it may be better to cut and run. There is no shame in refusing to sell to a haggler then donating all your things to a charity shop because you realise there’s no longer room to store them at home!
So do you think you have what it takes to survive the Bargain Hunter Horde? Are there others in the species that we need to be wary of? Let me know in the comments – happy booting!
IMAGE CREDITS: wightbay.com, erollsundaymarket.co.uk, secretagentmarketing, vagabondish, thewrap, gettyimages.