Car boot sale

Car boot sales are a mainly British form of market in which private individuals come together to sell household and garden goods. The term refers to the selling of items from a car's boot (U.K.) (or trunk in the U.S.). Although a small proportion of sellers are professional traders selling new goods or seconds, the goods on sale are often used but no longer wanted personal possessions. Car boot sales are a way of focusing a large group of people in one place to recycle still useful but unwanted domestic items that previously would have been thrown away. Car boot sales generally take place within the summer months, however a growing trend of indoor boot sales is now appearing in some parts of the UK. Car boot sales are also very popular in parts of Australia.


Car boot sales are often held in the grounds of schools and other community buildings, or in grassed fields or car parks. Usually they take place on weekend mornings, usually Sundays. Sellers will typically pay a nominal fee for their pitch, and arrive with their goods in the boot (trunk) of their car, hence the name. Usually the items are then unpacked onto folding trestle tables, a blanket or tarpaulin, or simply the ground. Entry to the general public is usually free, although sometimes a small admission charge is made. Advertised opening times are often not strictly adhered to, and in many cases the nature of the venue itself makes it impossible to prevent keen bargain hunters from wandering in as soon as the first stallholders arrive.


The sales are used to sell unwanted household goods, ranging from old books, records, cassette tapes, CDs, videos/DVDs, toys, stamps and coins, through to radios, old computers, ornaments, tools, clocks, furniture, kitchenware, and clothes. However, a number of commercial sellers often make an appearance, selling plants or vegetables, or new goods such as tools, toys, batteries, ornaments and fittings, paper, pens and other stationery. Almost everything is sold at a small fraction of the new price ranging from 10p to 50p (20¢ to $1) for books, through to several pounds for the most expensive items. Haggling is common at car boot sales.

Anyone can sell their goods at a car boot sale, whether a first-timer, a regular, or a seasoned professional. To secure the best pitches, it is best to turn up very early, often from 7:00am. Often amateurs sell at car boots when they move home or clear out the home of a deceased relative. The seller pays a small fee of maybe £5 or £10 ($10 to $20) to set up the stall, which is often no more than a tarpaulin laid out in front of the car boot, on which the goods for sale are displayed. Sellers who are better prepared will come with folding tables or trestle tables on to which they can lay out their goods in a more accessible way.

Professional buyers and antique dealers often visit car boot sales in the hope of finding an amateur or one-time seller who has under-priced a valuable item. Genuine first timers are often easy to spot and can find it daunting as the professionals flock around their car like vultures before they have even started unloading. It is sensible for first time sellers to put prices on all their goods before leaving home, as the scrum when they arrive may make pricing difficult in a hurry.

Guarantees are rarely given at car boot sales. Often goods that are powered by mains electricity cannot be tested at the sale site. The general rule at car boot sales is "caveat emptor" - 'let the buyer beware'. However, if a seller describes goods in any way that proves to be false, they are legally obliged under the Trade Descriptions Act to give a refund or replacement or reduce the price to reflect the wrong description or misrepresentation. Nevertheless, the buyer will find it difficult to contact or locate the seller after the sale in practice. For some buyers, the random nature of the goods make car boot sales an interesting and exciting hobby. Although many of the goods on sale are not particularly useful, high quality or sought after items, there are exceptions. Young children’s shoes, clothes and toys are often discarded long before they wear out or lose their quality. Occasionally stories have made the papers of antiques or paintings being bought for a few pounds in a car boot sale and then sold in auction for thousands. Film collector Gordon Hendry, for example, purchased two episodes of the television series "Doctor Who" on 16 mm film at a sale in the early 1980s, paying £8 each. He later found that they were the only known surviving copies of these episodes (see Doctor Who missing episodes).cite video|people=Gordon Hendry|year=1998|title=The Missing Years|format=Documentary included on "The Ice Warriors Collection" set|accessdate=2007-04-17|medium=VHS|publisher=BBC Worldwide]

It is not unknown for stolen goods or pirated videos and DVDs to be sold at car boot sales.


The world's first 'Boot Fair' or 'Boot Sale' was held at Nepicar Farm, Wrotham Heath, Kent, England in September 1980. The title or name 'Boot Fair' was coined by the originator and organiser, Barry Peverett, in order to create the curiosity that ultimately ensured that car boot sale events became a run-away popular success and a burgeoning nationwide weekend activity. Fact|date=April 2007


ee also

*Garage sale
*Flea market
*Jumble sale
*Charity sale
*Give-away shop
*The Freecycle Network


Wikimedia Foundation. 2010.

Look at other dictionaries:

  • car boot sale — car boot sales N COUNT A car boot sale is a sale where people sell things they own and do not want from a little stall or from the back of their car. [BRIT] (in AM, use garage sale) …   English dictionary

  • car boot sale — car boot .sale n BrE an outdoor sale where people sell things from the back of their cars …   Dictionary of contemporary English

  • car boot sale — ► NOUN Brit. ▪ an outdoor sale at which people sell things from the boots of their cars …   English terms dictionary

  • car boot sale — noun an outdoor sale at which people sell things from the trunk of their car • Syn: ↑boot sale • Regions: ↑United Kingdom, ↑UK, ↑U.K., ↑Britain, ↑United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland, ↑ …   Useful english dictionary

  • car boot sale — UK / US noun [countable] Word forms car boot sale : singular car boot sale plural car boot sales British a market where people sell things that they do not want from the back of their car …   English dictionary

  • car boot sale — n (BrE) an informal market, often in a field, where people sell things from the backs of their cars or from tables. People usually sell books, clothes, children’s toys, etc. which they no longer want, but some people use the sales to sell stolen… …   Universalium

  • car boot sale — noun → boot sale …   Australian English dictionary

  • car boot sale — noun An outdoor market at which people sell things from the boot (trunk) of their car …   Wiktionary

  • car boot sale — (British) garage sale, informal sale of personal possessions usually held on one s premises; informal estate sale …   English contemporary dictionary

  • car boot sale — noun (C) BrE a sale in a car park or other open space, where people sell things from the back of their cars …   Longman dictionary of contemporary English

Share the article and excerpts

Direct link
Do a right-click on the link above
and select “Copy Link”

We are using cookies for the best presentation of our site. Continuing to use this site, you agree with this.