The Car Boot Sale

A car boot sale is to England as a garage sale is to the United States. Car boot sales involve people coming together to buy and sell unwanted and new, or second-hand, items in a public space.

The phrase car boot sale comes from the habits of sellers who fill the boot of their car― in American English, the trunk ― with items to sell. These items can range from expensive antiques and heirlooms to inexpensive trinkets and children’s toys. Books, CDs, DVDs, clothes, home decor and computer equipment are some of the most popular items bought and sold at boot sales.

Car boot sales can be found almost anywhere, from sheep’s or cow’s fields, market stalls where food or other agricultural products are sold, to schools and even carparks.

Many boot sales occur in the summer or during otherwise hospitable weather and on weekends and holidays. A boot sale usually begins very early in the morning when the sun rises. Serious buyers will arrive at a boot sale early to get the best deals.

Attendees often number in the high hundreds or low thousands and stands that sell french fries, hamburgers, doughnuts or other cheap foods encourage buyers to extend their visits.

Haggling (price negotiating) is expected, and some would say encouraged, as it contributes to the feel of an authentic boot sale. The atmosphere is rich enough to warrant its own vernacular. For example, professional boot sale attendees who eagerly crowd sellers’ vehicles before they’ve finished putting their wares on display are referred to as “scrum” (a word borrowed from rugby).