Since moving to York eight years ago, I’ve discovered the joys of a car boot fair. My favourite, and the one that sparked my carbooting hobby, is the York Racecourse Car Boot Fair. Held at York Racecourse every Saturday between the start of April and end of October (except when there is horse racing), this car boot is an Aladdin’s cave of hidden treasures. Set against an impressive backdrop of the former Terry’s factory and the imposing stands of the racecourse, it’s a great place to rummage through the jumble of items on offer. And with over a hundred stalls, it’s one of the biggest in the area. Buyers and sellers come from all over and there’s a good mix of regular traders and people just looking to turn their unwanted and unused items into extra cash.
Car boot fairs or sales can be a great place to make some extra cash, with the added bonus of decluttering in the process, but for me the magic and all the fun is as a buyer. I can see how for many people there’s little appeal in getting up at the crack of dawn to go to damp field and walk up down aisles of paste tables piled high with other people’s junk (and normally I’d not be one to pass on the opportunity for a lie-in), I can now think of few better things to do on a Saturday morning. The high of uncovering a hidden gem or bagging a bargain is real. There’s definitely something in the saying “one man’s trash is another man’s treasure” – and there’s nothing like a good rummage at a car boot sale to unearth some treasure.
Yes, there may be a lot of rubbish, but sift through the piles of old tat and who knows what you might find? And that for me is the fun of the car boot fair! Although it is perhaps easy to feel a little overwhelmed, so it can be useful to have some rough idea what you’re looking for to combat this – although don’t become too blinkered or you may miss out on all those hidden gems! For example, I collect Christmas albums, and my husband likes to look for 90s indie records to fill in the gaps in his collection, so when we’re digging through crates of records we’re both on the lookout for these while also alert to other interesting records that catch our eye.
Apart from Christmas records, what I’m generally looking out for are ceramics – kitsch ornaments that I can either upcycle into lamps, or anything that will make an interesting plant pot – mid-century furniture, and any other bric-a-brac that catches my attention!
But while it’s now something of an English institution, the car boot sale actually originated in North America. According to Wikipedia (although no original source for this story has been verified), Father Harry Clarke, a priest from Stockport brought the idea back to UK as a charity fundraiser after seeing a similar event while on holiday in Canada in the seventies. I wonder if he knew that he was starting one of the great British traditions?