Car boots and charity shops

Posted by Jenny in Field Trip | 8 Comments

I’ve been back from my vacation for two weeks now and while junking wasn’t the main focus, of course I got a little in! I went to London for about twelve days. I was really hoping to visit a car boot sale — having been fascinated by the concept ever since I first heard the term.

In the UK, the boot of the car is what we here in the US would refer to as the trunk. (So if this was a British blog, we’d have to call our Junk In My Trunk category something different … like Loot In My Boot. Ha!) Apparently rather than having sales out front of their homes, people drive to a set spot with all the crap they can cram into their trunk, er, boot … and then offer it up for sale. From what I gather there are regular sellers as well as people who come on a one-off basis to declutterify. I even heard some shocking stories about how the regulars will go around early and buy up all the good stuff from the newcomers (sometimes pretending to be befuddled average joe shoppers), then sell it themselves at jacked up prices! It all sounded quite fascinating, but unfortunately I was only in town for one weekend, during which I was way too jetlagged to make it out of the house before noon … at which point we had other stuff to do. Including hitting Old Spitalfields Market.

Old Spitalfields Market

I went to this market on a previous visit and really liked it. There are stalls set up in two different areas. One of them is pretty much all craft stuff (with a lot of cool vendors) and one had some vintage stalls mixed in … although not nearly as much as I’d remembered from last time. (I see now on the web site that Thursday is antiques day, so maybe we should’ve gone then … oh well.) I drooled over some amazing vintage glasses frames, but with the sucky exchange rate I just couldn’t justify the cost. Sadly, my camera’s battery died right after taking the above shot, so I can’t show you any of them. There were also about a dozen sellers with stuff set out on the street a couple blocks away, but you’ll just have to take my word that it was all crap.

I did hit a couple of thrift stores — or charity shops as they are known over there.

Trinity Hospice Charity Shop

These were much cleaner and smaller than your typical US thrift store, and seem like more of a place to find good deals on items you’d otherwise buy new than places to uncover crazy unheard-of junky treasures. In other words, useful but kinda boring.

Tidy knick-knacks

I mean, look at these neatly sorted clothes racks. It has more of a regular retail vibe than secondhand, no?

Color coded clothes

One of them did have a pretty great book selection, and I probably would have bought a few if I hadn’t just picked up a couple of very random titles at these outdoor book stalls.

Book stalls

These rows and rows of tables (from a few different sellers) were located along the South Bank of the Thames river and seemed to have a steady stream of customers. Most of the books were about 3 or 4 pounds (which is about twice as much in dollars), although a few more desirable items were priced higher.

So, if I wasn’t junking, what was I doing? Lots of stuff, including eating some amazing food and visiting quite a few museums. Most of that had absolutely nothing to do with the stuff we talk about in this blog, but there was one art exhibit that I think might be of interest.

Million Dollar Nurse

The Serpentine Gallery had a show by Richard Prince, who I knew nothing about before going in. I was thrilled to find that his Nurse series of paintings had drawn inspiration from vintage paperbacks — and the ones in this show were even displayed with the books themselves!

Washington Nurse

His site shows a bunch more of the paintings (without their books).

So, if I was gone for nearly two weeks, but only in London for one weekend … where was I the other weekend? You’ll just have to wait to find out!

8 Responses to Car boots and charity shops

  1. sharie says:

    There are two different kinds of charity shops… those that sell all the usual shop type stuff for about the same price or very slightly cheaper and then the ‘other’ charity shops which sell exciting stuff very cheap.
    Big named charity shops are hardly worth venturing into to.
    Glad you enjoyed your visit to the uk but shame you never made the Boot Sale.

  2. Jenny says:

    I do remember hitting one junkier (i.e. more exciting) charity shop on a previous visit … but have never found another one since! Glad to know they are still out there.

  3. Meghan says:

    I really love the nurse paintings…

  4. Glad you’re back and that you had a great time. London is such a great place to shop in, even if its just window shopping!

  5. Victoria says:

    It was great to hear what you thought of the UK’s charity shops…. I dispair of them, gone are the days a couple of older ladies would make up prices as they went along. A favourite charity shop of mine that was reminiscent of the old days is closing down, I guess it doesn’t fair well next to the flashier versions on the high streets.

    Victoria

  6. Susan says:

    I LOVE those flipflops with the flowers!

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