ENGLISCH/931: Questions to Mrs. Gobbledygook (197) - Car boot sales and suchlike (SB)


197. Car boot sales and suchlike

Dear Mrs Gobbledygook

What is the difference between a jumble sale and a garage- or car boot sale? It seems an English habit to get rid of a lot of junk and get paid for it. Isn't that rather odd?

Sui W. (Bejing, China)


Dear Ms W.

Let's begin with the jumble sale. The word "jumble" means a lot of different things, all mixed together in a confused or untidy way. A jumble sale might seem strange to you, but traditionally it is an event in which second hand goods are sold, usually by an institution such as the local Scout group or church to help to raise money for charity. People bring their unwanted goods like old clothes, books, toys, tools and so on and other people - as you have observed - buy them, after they have paid a fee to enter the sale. Visitors can also buy drinks and cakes that are baked by women of the community. All the cash taken in on this occasion is donated to a good course. A jumble sale usually takes place in a church hall or another public place.

A garage sale used to be the american version of a car boot sale but is getting now more and more popular in Britain too. A garage is a building next to ones house or part of the house where you keep your car, when you are not using it. You may also keep other things in the garage and you may find that people seem to particularly keep things in their garages that they don't want anymore and don't want to through away either. Because of this, the garage and also the drive away in front of it are an ideal location to sell your jumble. But unlike a "jumble sale" where the money usually goes to charity, the seller of a garage sale usually keeps the money to himself.

Much more popular in Britain nowadays is the car boot sale. And that's your final expression. The boot of a car is the covered space usually in the back of the car, in which you carry luggage, shopping and perhaps store the spare tyre. But if you look in the car boot of someone else, you'll surely find some homeless odds and ends...

In the early 1980s people began to use the boots of their cars for another purpose. They would fill it with any jumble, records, books, stamp collections, household articles they no longer wanted. On a certain day, usually a Saturday or Sunday, they would drive to somewhere such as a car park to join other people with the same idea.

Each car owner would pay a small fee for the hire of the parking space and then open their car boots and attempt to sell the contents or possessions they collected inside. Up to nowadays car boot sales became very popular and quite an event for a large number of buyers and sellers.

So, if you need some extra money and want to sell something that still might be worth a bid, then put all this stuff in the boot of your car, take it to the next car boot sale and sell it. In fact it isn't even necessary to own a car, as you can always use the care of someone else.


Miranda Gobbledygook

23 April 2015

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