Preview: The Art Car Boot Fair on Brick Lane – May 27 2012

The end of May will see the return of the Vauxhall Art Car Boot Fair to Brick Lane’s Truman Brewery.

The fair, which costs a bargainous £3 to get in, will see a car boots brimming with arty deals, including works especially commissioned for the event.

Organisers promise works by more than 70 international artists, including Sir Peter Blake, Mat Collishaw, Polly Morgan, Tracey Emin’s Emin International, Keith Tyson, Chantal Joffe, Jessica Albarn and Billy Childish.

There’s also a handbag disco – which sounds absolutely amazing on its own – but you could also come away from the dancefloor with an exclusive designer or celebrity handbag. When the music stops, you grab a cotton bag, and it’s a mystery which bag you’ll find inside! Bags have been donated by celebrities and designers including models Sophie Dahl, Jasmine Guinness, Liberty Ross, Daisy Lowe and designers Lulu Guinness, Balenciaga, Barbara Hulanacki, with many more donors to be announced soon.

Last year, artist Tracey Emin, Blur front man Damon Albarn, and designer Pam Hogg were spotted at the event in what must have been the East End’s glitziest car park.

Best of all, you can indulge your arty side and enjoy a dance while raising money for a good cause. All the proceeds go to the Just for Kids Law charity, which gives legal help to young people in difficulty.

The Art Car Boot Fair

£3, 12-6pm, Sunday May 27 2012

Brick Lane Yard, London, E1

Helen Lawson


Trend alert: DVD box sets

During this never-ending recession, Britons are choosing to stay in and indulge in a new hobby: DVD box sets

William and Kate love it. So do David and Sam. Michelle and Barack are probably at it as we speak. In fact, according to You magazine, we’re all guilty.

DVD box sets are hot property right now. With endless reality shows on our TVs and a recession that looks like it might never end, people are turning to the comfort and security of a box set on a Friday night. Shows like The Sopranos, The Wire, The West Wing may be long gone from our TV guides but are far from forgotten.

Couples up and down the country are eschewing pricey nights out in favour of a bottle of wine, packet of posh crisps and a couple of hours with Baltimore drug dealers, forensic mass murderers and sexed up vampires.

Look through your DVD collection at home, turf out that Buffy box set your mum gave you two Christmases ago and add it to your next car boot sale – one man’s Lost is another man’s Breaking Bad.

Top tip: Shows like Dexter, The Killing and In Treatment are a higher caliber of programme that may not be everyone’s cup of tea. Keep an eye out for Family Guy and The Simpsons if you want to go for (near) universal appeal.

Sophie Tighe


Tips from a car boot addict

Photo by Jerome EdwardsPhoto by Jerome Edwards

Paying your way through university can be tough, even if you’ve got your fees covered. But while Guy Roberts, 25, from London, was studying illustration at the Norwich University College of the Arts, he realised Norwich’s car boot sales were an untapped goldmine of vintage fashion. He set up an eBay account and soon he was earning up to £300 a month.

Guy is now a self-confessed car boot addict and has agreed to tell carbooted the secrets of buying and selling at the car boot.

When did you start going to car boot sales?

I used to go with my parents but I didn’t really get what they were all about. It was only when I started going off my own back that I realised there were people who were willing to practically give away stuff. I’d be mesmerised by these things and they would let me have them for 50p because they thought were rubbish.

What’s been your best buy at a car boot sale?

The first thing I remember being proud of buying was an old Miami Dolphins jacket, which I still love to bits. It cost me £2, but if you bought it in America it would be about £70. I also bought two Helly Hansen jackets for £2 each, and they’re worth around £70 if you buy them new.

What made you decide to start selling clothes online?

I’m into vintage clothing myself, so I could see that a lot of this stuff was worth good money. I thought, if people are selling these things so cheap but I know there’s a market for them, why not start selling them on eBay? So I started going to car boot sales and charity shops, and buying vintage things so I could sell them online. Once, I bought a River Island jumper which wasn’t even vintage but it had that kind of feel – I got it for £3 and sold it for £30. After that I was addicted.

What are the easiest things to sell?

You can normally sell designer brands for double what you pay for them at the car boot. Sportswear from famous brands like Nike or Adidas always goes down well. If anything has a brand name on it but looks like a granddad would wear it, people will be willing to pay for it.

How much do you make out of car boot sales?

While I was at university I was making £200-£300 a month. That covered all the money I needed to have fun, and I was able to go out pretty much every night. It probably wasn’t great for my liver and my brain cells, though.

But now when I sell stuff on eBay, the money stays in my paypal account and I usually end up spending it on more clothes.

Where’s the best place for finding bargains?

London’s not the best for cheap stuff because people here have a bit more money. But at the car boot sales in Norwich, where I studied, you’d find things for 50p which would go for at least four times that in London.

I like the Battersea Car Boot Sale but a lot of people are there to make as much money as they can, so you feel like you’re getting hustled sometimes. I saw this really nice Tommy Hilfiger towel there but they were selling it for £8. In London they know how much they can get for stuff, but outside London, they’re not so bothered about brands so that makes it cheaper.

Chiswick School Car Boot Sale is good because even though you’re in London it’s more like an out of town sale. A lot of people come in from outside the city and you also get well off families who just want to get rid of their stuff as quickly as they can.

Where’s the worst place?

The East End is a lot more trendy – you get people coming in looking for vintage clothes and furniture – there are a lot more posers round there so things are more expensive.

What was your last buy?

This jacket I’m wearing (see picture). I got it for £4.

What was your last sell?

Last weekend I went to Battersea Car Boot Sale to get rid of some old clothes, I had forty huge plastic rings that my friend had bought back from Thailand. I sold them for £4 to this weird old man with a massive empty suitcase – I’ve got no idea what he wanted to do with them.

Tom Allsop


Inspiration for car boot presentation – three great ideas from the Battersea Boot Sale

It’s all very well taking your stuff to the car boot to sell, but it might be difficult to attract buyers to your amazing selection of goods if they can’t see what’s on show.

At Sunday’s Battersea Car Boot saleas recommended to us by car booting expert Guy Roberts – we spotted three great ways of presenting your stall:

– Record boxes divided by genre and type of vinyl make it easy for music fans to flick through:

– Pictures on show as if they’re in a gallery let the buyer envisage how the frame will look in their own home:

– Crockery neatly displayed in matching sets shows off your great collection, and the buyer can do the mixing and matching themselves:

We also overheard a seller proudly telling a customer that the children’s clothes she had for sale were arranged by age group – a simple but effective way of making it easy for your buyers to browse.

Overall, the Battersea Boot Sale is a great way to spend a Sunday afternoon, with friendly sellers. The organisers let you re-enter if you get your hand stamped, and there were lots of well-behaved dogs enjoying a saunter around the stalls, too. The midday opening means it’s fab for lovers of lazy Sunday mornings.  It was difficult to resist the old-fashioned cook books at many different stalls, from publishers such as Vogue and Good Housekeeping, because good cooking never goes out of fashion. My favourite buy of the day? We picked up these 1960s Brands Hatch programmes – complete with results written in pencil from the race itself – for 50p apiece.

Helen Lawson


My first car boot: a quick fix for when you need to make money

An unexpectedly large household bill through the letterbox can be a nasty surprise when you’re on a tight budget. You have days to find the money, so a trip to the car boot can be the perfect quick fix, as well as a chance to finally deal with your home’s clutter.

Housemates Kate Birch and Toni Cotton, 27-year-old teachers from Leeds, found themselves in this situation when the gas and electric bill arrived after the cold winter.

Luckily for them, they were able to head to a local car boot in Otley, West Yorkshire, to sell their unwanted items. Kate tells carbooted about her first ever trip to a car boot, and how the pair came away nearly £300 richer!

Why did you decide to go to a car boot to make money?

We went to a car boot because using eBay seemed a bit too much like hard work to list and photograph all our items. I wasn’t expecting to get much for my bag of clothes so thought it wouldn’t be worthwhile with the costs of postage and packaging. Also, with our working hours and commutes to school, making trips to the post office just wasn’t going to be convenient.

Why did you choose the Otley car boot sale?

We chose the Otley Sale purely because it started at midday and we weren’t dedicated enough to get up at the crack of dawn! It turned out to be a good choice – there were lots of people buying and selling and it was a sunny day so even more turned out. It was only £12 per car and we didn’t need to pre-book a pitch either. Toni made over £200 and I made £70 so we still made a good profit.

What did you have to do when you arrived on the day?

We got a great spot because my boyfriend was driving and didn’t realise that the last to arrive were supposed to go to the other end of the site – he charmed a granny who let him have her granddaughter’s usual spot as she wasn’t going that day! We arrived at 11.30am, but regular sellers had been there setting up since 10am. We borrowed a pasting table to act as our stall, and Toni brought along a portable clothes rail to make it easier for buyers to browse.

What was it like once the gates were open for buyers to come in?

The main items on sale were clothes, toys and household items and it was a pretty friendly atmosphere. People were generally interested only if things were really cheap  – say £1 for a top or £2 for a pair of jeans – but I’m sure more specialist items might have sold for more.

If you’re just looking for a big clear out of stuff you genuinely don’t need any more then it’s well worth making the trip to your local sale – I’m never planning on going skiing again so I happily waved goodbye to my ski goggles for a couple of quid. It was the sheer volume of clothes that made Toni her £200. I sold some books, jewellery and unopened Paperchase stationery for £3 a time – so for good quality and well-known brands you can get a bit more.

Did you have trouble selling any of your items?

The only thing I didn’t sell was a beaded top I’d bought for £45 and worn once. People wouldn’t pay £10 for it because they wanted everything dirt cheap. One or two sellers helpfully suggested that I sold it on eBay instead – because they knew, in general, the car booters aren’t after clothes that cost too much. I think it’ll be worth auctioning this one item online because it’s still stylish.

What tips would you offer people considering a car boot sale to make a quick bit of cash?

For first timers, I’d say go for it! We were lucky that it was a nice day and had three of us to look after our stall. As you have to pay to get in, you need to make sure you have the volume to make it worthwhile.

After two good hours of selling, it tailed off, so make sure you’re ready to go when the gates open as that’s your best chance of a sale.

Other people will buy your stuff to go on and sell it themselves. Toni sold £70 worth of clothes to a woman in the last 5 minutes – clearly intending to sell it the week after. But Toni needed wardrobe space and cash, so it didn’t really matter.

Will you go again?

Definitely! I’m a fair weather car booter – you wouldn’t catch me braving it in the winter. But the old lady next to us said that they go every week, come rain or shine, to raise cash for a local charity. It did take a lot of will power not to have a good look around the sale so I wasn’t tempted to sell my junk then go home with other people’s, though!

Kate and Toni sold their unwanted goods at:

Wharfedale Farmers Auction Mart
Otley
Leeds
West Yorkshire
LS21 3BD

It’s open every Sunday from 12-4pm for buyers. Sellers can arrive from 10am. It’s £12 for a car, £14 for a van, and £2 for a trailer.

Helen Lawson


Car boot sales: the fashionista’s favourite for inspiration

We know that car boot sales are brilliant for a rummage and the thrill of a special find – it’s their universal appeal, after all!

In this interview on the Laura Ashley blog, Stylist magazine’s fashion director Alexandra Fullerton shares her love for a good car boot, saying: “Entertaining is one of my favourite activities, along with gardening, baking and rooting around car boot sales to buy other people’s junk (a hobby my husband despairs of!)”

Beautiful photos accompany the piece, showing off Fullerton’s North Essex home, complete with her thrifty car boot finds on display.

Fullerton’s beautiful home is great inspiration for good buys. We reckon you could easily recreate her look by keeping an eye out at your local car boot sale for items such as quirky coat hooks, patterned glassware and printed fabrics.

Helen Lawson


What you need to do before you sell food at a car boot sale

Cakes and biscuits are cheap to make and always popular with buyers. Carbooted headed to pop up market The Big Brixton Bake Off to get the low down on what you need to do before you start selling homemade food.

The Big Brixton Bake Off

1. Check whether you need to register your kitchen

To register your kitchen you need to contact your local council – don’t worry, it’s not much hassle – it’s free to do and they’re obligated to accept your request.

If you’re planning a one off bake sale you should be okay without registering, but if you’re planning on making a bit of extra cash by selling food once a month you’ll need to register.

Barbs was selling vegan cakes at The Big Brixton Bake Off. What type of cakes would suit your target audience?

2. Decide who your target audience is

Which car boot are you selling at? In some areas people might only buy organic cakes, in others it might be all about the glitter and colourful icing. Is it worth heading to a car boot in a more affluent area so that you can sell your food for a larger profit?

3. Do a course in food hygiene

Professional caterers have hygiene qualifications so follow their lead. You don’t want to get a reputation for making customers sick. Check out local colleges; lots run night courses in health and safety for kitchens.

This toffee banoffee cake from The Big Brixton Bake Off had to be eaten on the day so was served on a paper plate with a fork

4. Work out what packaging to use

Will people be eating your produce at the car boot sale or be taking it home? Does your packaging need to be pretty or functional? Packaging can be an expensive extra cost but places like Costco and Macro sell it in bulk.

Check whether the packaging you choose fits in with your local council’s legislation before you buy it though – some have strict rules on the chemicals used to make it.

5. Practice!

Make sure you’re selling the best possible produce on your stall by testing out your cooking skills on your family first!

What are your tips?

Kate Lloyd