car boot sales

car boot sales
   Car boot sales, along with garage sales and attic sales, as forms of private selling are a phenomenon of recent years and reflect a number of economic and social trends and cultural practices. Jumble sales have traditionally been held in, for example, church halls and involved a recycling of clothes from the better-off to the less well-off. Proceeds were given to the owner or user of the premises: church, Scout or Guide group and so on. However, jumble sales, though very cheap (a bag may commonly be filled with clothes for 50 pence during the last hour), acquired a reputation as ‘un-chic’ affairs where one had to elbow aside competing purchasers and where a careful watch was kept for thieves. They thrived during periods of recession such as 1990– 1, but are now less common than formerly. With increasing affluence, people turned to ‘attic’ sales which were still held for charitable ends. People would pay £5 to a church or YMCA to rent a table in a hall. Proceeds of sales of general goods and brica- brac would be kept by the vendors, and the quality of goods on offer would be much higher than at jumble sales. They were a way for the middle classes to dispose of goods they would otherwise have to advertise or take to the tip. Garage sales tended to focus on the sale of household goods. They are the equivalent of US ‘yard sales’, but in Britain are nothing like as prevalent.
   Car boot sales (akin to US ‘flea markets’) have become the predominant means of private selling. People rent space outdoors, often from a commercial provider, and sell household goods. At some huge regular car boot sales, a large turnover of money is involved and the police (at the behest of local retailers) have sought to intervene to prevent new goods from being sold. Local authorities have often banned regular car boot sales on the grounds that they cause parking problems and annoy local residents.
   Supporters suggest that these sales form a cultural space, which is not so much about money as exchange. They fill a void on Sunday mornings which used to be taken up with churchgoing, and provide a forum for healthy socializing. Any attempts to control and regulate these events are seen as unhealthy and reflect an increasing tendency towards surveillance of the population at large, and are an attempt to criminalize gatherings which prior to the Criminal Justice Act (1994) would have been perfectly legal.

Encyclopedia of contemporary British culture . . 2014.

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