Kya deLongchamps of­fers a few tips on how to bring home a bar­gain at a car boot sale

Irish Examiner - Property & Interiors - - INTERIORS -

CAR boot sales are step­ping it out again as the weather stut­ters into spring, but not ev­ery one of them seems worth the car or foot miles. Many sales do dis­ap­point and are con­sis­tently over­whelmed by in­ex­pli­ca­ble dross from the back of some­one’s garage, chil­dren’s bat­tered toys, bulging boxes of pulp fic­tion, scratched CDs by the thou­sands, and cheap new goods. How­ever, reg­u­lar at­ten­dance is key, and for € 2-€5 for a wan­der and a fist full of chips, well worth an hour on a Sun­day morn­ing. Sales are by their na­ture tran­si­tory and each one is unique as pri­vate sell­ers do­ing a clear out and traders on the move come and go week by week.

To­gether with the smaller bar­gains, there have been leg­endary buys at car boot sales in­clud­ing a Lalique vase bought in Dum­fries in Scot­land in 2009 for £1 that went on to fetch £32,450 at auc­tion at Christie’s in Lon­don. You can be cer­tain, the buyer trod thou­sands of miles be­fore alight­ing on that jewel, and the mer­est chance of a life­time find is enough to get col­lec­tors out at dawn on their pre­cious week­end morn­ings. The UK has a thriv­ing boot sale cul­ture dat­ing to the 1970s, so if you’re over the pond check out week­end sales in the near­est vil­lage hall car-park or pitch.

Dress com­fort­ably, se­cure your money out of sight (cash in small notes and coins) and ar­rive early. Be pre­pared to wait for new ar­rivals to un­pack their cars and vans as it can take a cou­ple of hours for the full com­pli­ment of sell­ers to ap­pear. Drift closer to cars as they are be­ing un­loaded as some­times the real gems can be snapped up even be­fore the ta­bles are up. It’s of­ten worth be­ing a bor­der­line nui­sance and cheek­ily reach­ing into an un­packed box. If you’re park­ing on the field, point the horses for home and en­sure you are close enough to make it back to a grav­eled path if the go­ing gets heavy. Bring plas­tic bags to carry goods, and a fold up um­brella — es­sen­tial in our bogy lit­tle coun­try if all the pitches are out­doors.

Mak­ing an of­fer is a del­i­cate busi­ness, but it’s not per­sonal, and deal­ing is ex­pected. Don’t be afraid to start with a low ball of­fer and com­pro­mise. ‘Would you take?’ can mean any­thing that’s com­fort­able for you re­gard­less of the price on some­thing. At the end of the day with the prospect of re-wrap­ping and pack­ing up larger goods, sell­ers may be will­ing to take just about any­thing to get rid. ‘What’s your best?’ doesn’t nec­es­sar­ily sig­nal the very bot­tom price, but gives you an in­di­ca­tion of what the seller needs to make to pay for some­thing they may have bought, cover the pitch and so on, but they still may be way above their ac­tual com­fort zone.

If there are no prices on the pieces, you may be get­ting a num­ber that bears no re­la­tion to what the seller re­ally ex­pects, but they’ve spot­ted your belted Joules welling­tons and the Audi keys jan­gling off your hand­bag. An of­fer a euro or two less than the ‘best’ can of­ten win­kle the num­ber down even fur­ther with­out any pride lost on ei­ther side. The ‘walk-away’ is a tech­nique that can back-fire, but worth a try. Smile, shake your head and start to leave. Some­times the seller hav­ing bluffed their way along will hail you back. Oth­er­wise, keep walk­ing, have a cup of tea, check back later to see if the piece is still there and try again.

Boot sales are a su­perb en­vi­ron­ment for fakes, forg­eries and even stolen goods to be off-loaded by anony­mous traders. Trust your own eye and if you take a wild chance — on your head and wallet be it. Pro­fes­sional sell­ers can act out the part of pri­vate sell­ers clean­ing out nana’s at­tic, so be wary of feigned in­com­pe­tence about the back­ground or gen­uine­ness of an ob­ject. If you’re buy­ing dam­aged pieces, ad­just your of­fer ac­cord­ingly and have any elec­tri­cal goods such as old lamps checked out by your own RECI qual­i­fied elec­tri­cian be­fore use. LIST­INGS FOR CAR BOOT SALES For Ire­land: Col­lect Ire­land. http:// col­lec­tire­land.word­ For the UK: Car Boot Cal­en­dar.­boot­cal­en­

Dress com­fort­ably and ar­rive early to a car boot sale.

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