I have always intended to report the rough with the smooth when it comes to secondhand shopping, and so it is with a heavy heart that I have to report that last Saturday’s boot sale in Moss Side’s Hough end, which last year threw up some absolute classics during the six weeks that it’s put on each year in aid of the Air Cadets, was a dreary affair.
The weather has quite literally rained all over boot sale season this year. On a warm, dry morning, there are few greater pleasures than getting up early and heading to some field in the middle of nowhere to poke around people’s unwanted goods and hopefully bag yourself some cut price treasures. You can keep your nineties raves, or your maypole dancing: give me a good bootsale on a nice day and I’m happy.
But when the weather is damp and dreary, then it tends to be a rule of thumb that boot sales follow suit. There’s a certain amount of blitz spirit in the people who still make it out to them, both buying and selling, but the atmosphere is never the same. So I had a feeling that Hough End, which is the nearest boot sale to where I live, would be unsatisfying. But I have to say I was still a bit shocked by just how down at heel the whole thing felt. There were literally whole stalls full of unwearable, tatty Primark clothes and battered up shoes. And broken, dirty toys… I mean, would it take that much to give them a quick wash before attempting to flog them? Everyone seemed to be complaining, although I did join in and have a nice, rousing moan myself with the woman who had the ‘office clearance stall’ that I bought two staplers and dustpan and brush from. She had good reason to moan: the office that the stuff came from was the one that both she and her husband worked in which had just gone bust. They have a mortgage and an autistic son, and right now are in a bind panic about what they’re going to do. Nice, huh?
There were a few nice plant stalls which cheered me up a bit, and the one saving grace was the fantastic vintage toys stall, a few things from which (including the vintage porn you can see photos of here. Wasn’t quite sure how that fit in with the toys, but it was fun to see). Had a good talk with the bloke running it, who is basically flogging off his personal collection then has turned that into a micro business. But I left empty-handed from his stall. Our daughters are at an age where there is quite simply no point in buying old toys in their boxes. And they still always make me a feel a bit sad when I see them, as I think that no child’s every got to play with them yet.
But all in all it was properly grimsville. Shame really. I think that boot sales should be a place to go to have a natter and try to make a few quid in an easy, relaxed way, not somewhere that just reminds us all of how broke we are right now.