Boot sale bargain?
My name is Amanda and I’m a boot fair binger. It all started so innocently – my friend Anna phoned me in a panic a couple of days ago begging me to help out at the school boot fair on Saturday morning – it was two days before the fair and so far she only had two helpers. Of course I’d help, I said – it’s only round the corner and I was free anyway.
Katy and I rolled up just before 9 to find Anna putting the finishing touches to the hall – she’d laid out about 50 tables almost single-handedly and just needed help moving some chairs and manning the door. She gave me a crash course in using the caretaker’s gismo for transporting stacks of school chairs around and left me to it. And a crash course it was – I’d only managed to move one perilous stack of chairs out into the corridor before it threatened to collapse. My screams of anguish, “It’s about to go Katy – save yourself! Timberrrrrr!” alerted the school keeper, who relieved me of my duties on the spot. He suggested, tactfully, that Anna could do with some help out front showing the sellers in. Nothing personal, he told me later, it was just he could do without the paperwork.
By the time the doors were opened I was at a loose end. Katy had relieved me of £15 for a fully-equipped Bratz tour bus that wouldn’t look out of place outside Wembley Arena. Apart from having a functioning Jacuzzi complete with underlit bar, it had working headlights and a dashboard radio which was tuned to Radio 4. Marvellous. The competition for bargains was on. My blood was up – I had the wind beneath my tail and set out to check out the stalls. Within minutes I’d gazumped a woman in her 80s to buy six silver teaspoons for £3 and a vintage lidded vegetable dish for £1. Bargain wise we were neck and neck – then Katy sidled up to me requesting £3 – not a chance I said. Oh, she replied – it’s for an MP3 player BNIB, she’d heard me talking about wanting one…
Minutes later I’d spotted a grey Gap maxi dress and some silver LK Bennett slingbacks for a fiver each. They even matched. Next up three silver candleholders (seasonally decorated with festive mooses) for £2 and four biscuit cutters in the shape of playing card suits for £3. I felt a royal flush sweeping over me as I handed over yet another fiver. Then I spotted a bag under the table stuffed with 1950s’ kitchen utensils with stripy painted wooden handles – the sort everyone dismissed as “their mum’s battered old potato masher” and threw out about 20 years ago but now have their own category on eBay. They’re called Skyline Prestige – and have shabby chic written all over them. These were going for a pound each. (I later found an exact replica on eBay for £9.99 plus £2.80 p&p.) I limited myself to five before gently suggesting that the stallholder display them a little more obviously and (once I’d stashed mine safely away) hinted that it might be an idea to put the prices up!
I bumped into her five minutes later as I was bragging about my purchases to the mums on the cake stall. “You were right,” she said. “The moment I put them out on top of the table a woman came in and bought the lot – she’s a stylist for a food photographer.” I knew it – so next time you see an artfully peeling Skyline Prestige slotted spoon decorating a photograph of poached eggs on a bed of puy lentils in the Sunday supplements you’ll know where they came from.
Meanwhile I’m off to boot fair boot camp – first stop Martin Lewis’s online demotivator http://ow.ly/vvhNY, a website that works out how much money a year you waste on non-essential spending and how long it takes you to earn the money to pay for what you buy. Turns out I’m spending £1,040 a year on “boot fair bargains” and on current levels it takes me three weeks’ work a year to pay for them. Unless I cut down I’ll have spent £46,800 on boot fairs over the course of my working life. That’s a lot of kitchen paraphernalia…
Posted by Amanda Blinkhorn