9th December 2012
Another Car Boot and a disappointment after the vibrancy of the week before. I normally enjoy our Sunday’s where it’s just the Car Boot but, the weather forecast again worked against us. Yes, they are partly right but, it wasn’t that windy until later in the day. We normally get a good crowd on a Sunday even in bad weather but, it wasn’t as big as normal. I’m not sure if everyone went to do Xmas shopping or wteher the threat of horrible winds put everyone off but, I hope that next weeks will be busier. I know that all the Car Boots have struggled lately with Needham having 30 sellers on Saturday, Woolpit had only a few and we managed just less than Needham. Most Car Boots are coming to an end in December but, we are hoping to go from strength to strength nd take advantage of the lack of Car Boots. The imminent covers will help and maybe even a warmer Sunday would be appreciated.
To be continued.
2nd December 2012
A great day at Stonham Barns where, for once, it really felt that several attractions combined. If only we had been allowed to use the entrance to the Showground as well everyone would have naturally walked down to the Car Boot. The only negative was the sheer cold that was wafting around the showground. It did warm throughout the day but, we lost quite a few because of the bitterness of the cold. Putting that aside though we had over 50 sellers which was pretty good considering the cold and may sold well as there was a good constant crowd filtering through. Had all the sellers persevered the buyers were still coming at 3pm. We virtually sold out on the food trailer as well which is down to the pricing in the restaurant as well.
The week had been filled with calls about the Car Boot and the forecasts were good (i’m sure i’ve said that before). My friend who sells me advertising (Abi) now sends me a weekly forecast which makes you feel a little bit optimistic. She is the only genuine salesgirl I know that lets me know that it could be rubbish on the Sunday and potentially weakens her sales position but, I like that in her. She knows that we are forward thinking and will advertise when we can.
So, as usual I was late working Friday evening and my daughter turned up to come home with me. I got home at about 9.15 and was out on the roads at 10pm putting the signs up. I finally finished at 12.45 which was about normal for me.
25th November 2012
I’ve finished sulking about the wet patches and was looking forward to this weekends Car Boot especially as the weather forecast had clearly stated that it would start cloudy but clear and leave a lovely day. Well, they were spot on except that they forgot to mention the hurricane at Stonham Barns. I’d been out till 1.15am putting the boards up and by the time I finished it was completely mild with not a hint of wind. Who would have thought that it would have escalated so quickly the next day. On Saturday it was a mixture of mild and wet but, by the nightime it changed rather swiftly.
As usual I was late back from London and had quite a few boards to repair before I set off on Friday. By the time I left it was 10 o clock already so, my visit to the pub was already out of the question. The weather was ok but, it’s always fun watching everyone stop and look at me as if i’m from mars. I often get a few bibs and waves from Car Boot regulars but, it was quiet and I suppose i’m used to not talking to anyone for a few hours. I set off from Stowupland and then go round the rondabout at junction 50 of the A14 and then back onto the A14 to do the Needham bit. I’m sure everyone has seen the sign outside Needham which has remained untouched for quite a while now. In fact, I haven’t lost a board for months now. I think everyone is used to where I put them and almost expects them now. I did get a man come out, a few boards from Needham, asking me what I was doing. It kind of makes you wonder why these people haven’t seen a board at the same place for 6 months but, I suppose it’s probably down to my extremely powerful headlight on the Land Rover shining into his house that made him pop out. The Police also have got used to the strange man in a shiny top placing boards at midnight.
It is very peaceful at night and it has become a lot easier because the holes tend to remain where they were the week before. By the time I got to Stonham it was raining and I wasn’t aware that the water board were digging up outside which made my positioning a little different to normal. Such dilemmas that i’m faced with at midnight….
It’s probably quite sad but, I can’t explain the feeling of relief when I head back towards Stowmarket along the scenic route. There’s the weird electrical noise coming from underneath the pylons and the owl that always seems to follow the car. If it wasn’t so late I could really sit and enjoy the peace. Instead, by the time I get to bed I know that I will be woken early in the morning by Penny going off to pick up a few items or food from Bookers. Whilst i’m talking about food I must say how impressed with Bookers I have been. I always thought it was a cheap bulk purchase site but, you won’t get better Bacon, Sausages and Burgers from anywhere else. When we have managed to get out too late and ended up buying Bacon from a well known Supermarket in Stowmarket the quality does not get anywhere near Bookers. Naturally the price is also half the price as well. I cannot speak any higher about Bookers. We have received nothing but compliments about the food we cook on the trailer but, it’s down to Bookers and Aaron, of course, our resident chef.
Anyway, i’ve been flogging myself to death at work in London working from 8am till 8pm for the last few weeks and I think it finally caught up with me over the last few days. I managed to stay in bed till 9.30 which allowed me 30 minutes to get ready and take my daughter Anya to football training in Stowupland. That was a real lay in for me.
I know that we are in quite a few magazines and all over the internet but, I panic come Thursday’s and slip something into the EADT. This week we have lots of interest but, last week I spent another £40 putting one in. If I advertise in all the locals it comes to £125 a week. It does add up.
18th November 2012
I know I know, I’ve taken my time to start writing this. The reason being was that I was a little angry after the last Car Boot. I’ve spent the last two weeks talking about the hard ground and the car park and we managed one week in the Car Park. Admittedly, the car park only holds about 25 sellers or so but, it had a good feeling. Well, onwards and upwards. Last week was excellent for the number of sellers and again we had a load of new ones. To me the disappointment was the Showground and we have spent yesterday (Monday) making sure that it will be improved for Sunday. By Sunday we will have a larger rain free hard ground and I’ve had a few guarantees that will allow us to move forward in a positive way. I have the stalls on order and my aim is to have them ready for Dec 2nd which is the day that Marquees are at Stonham along with the Ice Rink and Late shopping.
11th November 2012
At last a Sunday without rain. Well, not exactly a tropical paradise but, I think you know what I mean. I’ve forgotten how long it has been since we had a Sunday with nice weather but, it felt like I was greeting long lost friends. As usual Traffic was quite awful Friday evening and by the time I got back home and re-stuck/repaired the boards it was 10pm. It was a strange evening as it wasn’t warm and was starting to rain a little but only a slight amount. I went round quite swiftly and as usual got to see my new friend an owl that always flies by the road as you get towards the boundaries of Stowupland having come from Stonham. I would also like to say that we have definitely been accepted by the locals now as the boards always seem to be left now whereas before we certainly lost a few. Strangely enough though, I placed a board in a position I hadn’t placed it in for a long while and that one was the only one that was flattened…. There was literally tyre marks going up the grass and over the sign and off again. I’m sure it was an accident but, how weird was it that that was the only one squashed.
I finished putting the boards out at 12 and missed my pint in the pub but, as usual it didn’t take anything away from that feeling you get when you know you have done the last board. I’ve got a few boards that need repairs this week (as they were pretty rained on on Saturday) plus I need to work out a way of making it obvious to people coming past Stonham that we are still on. I may sneak an add into the EADT or Ipswich Star just to remind everyone.
For once it rained on Saturday! I don’t mean that in a nasty way but, I cannot remember the last time Needham has not started or managed to at least get going whereas Sunday’s have been terrible. I never want any of the Car Boots to have bad weather as I know what a letdown it is. We have had so many letdowns and every time it’s just as we get going and start to look like we will beat the 99 seller mark. Next year we will be flying especially once all the Car Boots close in December and we have the covers. We will be the only one going as we go into the New year. That’s when I think we will pick up the crowds.
Sunday 5am, it was cold but very clear. As usual I drove in looking at every sign i’d placed ready to pick up any that had fallen or needed help. They were all smiling and waving back. I placed the normal sign in the middle of the road and tried to position it in such a way that it wouldn’t be run over again. have a look at it as you drive in. It has been so repaired.
I positioned three signs as you drive in driving to point out we aren’t in the field. This is my big concern as many cars must look in and think the Car boot isn’t on. I had to take over food duties this week which meant that i wasn’t able to wander aimlessly around worrying about numbers selling or buying. To be honest I wasn’t sure how many would turn up especially as we hadn’t used the normal newspapers. However, I was pleasantly surprised with the numbers and if we get a good weekend this week we will start to grow again. The Car Park was a good idea of Penny’s. I wanted to stay in the field but, it does make sense. It’s nice not to slosh mud everywhere although the field does do well no matter how much rain there is.
Our normal friends were there selling and I must say a big Thanks to everyone that continues to turn up. As much as they moan about poor sales/good sales or a whole number of things I am glad that they do turn up each week.
We were a bit low on staff and brought in Craig to help at the entrance to make sure everyone knew where to go. Maybe I will get him to be a human sign… I don’t think he will approve of that. Aaron wasn’t cooking so, as I said, I was doing that. Hopefully by Sunday we will have repaired the roof of the food trailer as it looks a little sorry for itself having been heavily rained upon recently.
As I was cooking I couldn’t see how many people visited the Car Boot but, I understand that it was a steady flow. I think that being by the shops will really benefit the Car Boot as there are still some people that are too proud to wander to the Car Boot but, they haven’t really got an excus not to now. Also, the Car Boot looks more like a flea market so, it sort of loses it’s Car Boot stigma to these people. Although that wasn’t a concern of mine. It was it’s first week in the Car Park and feedback was certainly positive from the owner of Stonham Barns who really liked it being where it was. He was so pleased that he has offered to clear areas around the Showground to eable us to use that as well.
Weather forecasts this week also claim that Sunday will also be ok so, i’m really expoecting more sellers and buyers this Sunday. I’ve also sneaked a little advert into the EADT and we are certainly getting more visitors to www.fishface.co so, i’m getting my positivity again.
I know I ramble on but, I don’t think you will find a better venue for a Car Boot than Stonham Barns. Starting from having toilets to having the attractions and shops means that as a seller you can potentially be there as long as you like. TO BE CONTINUED
4th November 2012
My daughters 16th Birthday and here I am sitting watching the rain. It’s 10.20 and it’s rained all morning and still is yet, I still have people asking me where the Car Boot is. They are disappointed but, almost angry because we haven’t set up for them. If only everyone knew how much we try to carry on even in the rain. It’s fine if you are selling plants but, anyone with clothes, books wouldn’t have even tried to come here today. I’m probably guilty of one thing and that’s not having a SORRY sign. Next week hopefully we won’t need one, but, i’ll have one for then.
We did get a few sellers last week saying ‘Is this it’ and then drive off. I did say that it was raining and that all Car Boots will be the same but, again the sellers look at me as if I have suddenly opened that day and tricked everyone into believing we have a Car Boot there. Equally, if the rain stops everyone turns up to buy asking where it is…… We may all be quite an obsessed lot but, even we give up if it has been raining for three hours non stop.
It is disheartening for us, believe me, when we spend £XXX advertising the event and the weather forecast is either wrong or it rains and everyone decides to stay in bed. We set up irrespective. I’m glad we have moved to the Car park but, we now have to try and make sure that the buyers don’t drive past because we aren’t in the normal field.
Anyway, maybe this Sunday will be boiling…
Isn’t it typical that when I get a day off (Friday) I still struggled to get everything out in time. Friday morning, my alarm went off at 5am as usual but I chose to ignore it. It was nice not having to drag myself into the car and up the A12 to London. When I did emerge, which wasn’t much after 5, I knew that I had to repair and re-cover all the boards. With all the numerous tasks I had been given I didn’t finish the boards until about 5pm which meant that I had 2 hours to finish the task before the Firework display was ready to start. On top of this Penny had invited numerous people to attend her shop where I was going to barbecue food for them all. This was quite an exciting task as I could actually use the huge grill we bought for the Bikers attending Stonham before their Charity Run. We weren’t to know that bikers are actually healthy now… and barely looked at the burgers etc.
The only problem was that having put the signs out I would have to shoot home load up a very large, heavy grill into the car and then set up before the millions of people emerged on Stonham. As usual I ended up having to rush round and left the last 6 boards in the car as I was running out of time. As I reached home I saw Aaron (our budding burger chef) driving past me. Luckily, they phoned thinking that I’d forgotten my key so, I was able to utilise Aaron to assist loading the grill.
Aaron came with me and as we rushed to Stonham we were met with the largest traffic jam on the way through Stonham. I’m not sure why as it should have been quite easy feeding cars straight through but, I imagine that cars coming from both directions meant that queues formed. It took ages to get there and we had enough time to drop the car off and rush round to the fireworks with seconds to spare.
Ian was there looking like Clint Eastwood in his yellowy orange coat. I’m sure that he certainly had the last laugh as I was freezing and had to borrow Penny’s very blue coat with fur lined hood. The fireworks lasted about 20 odd minutes and although not spectacular were certainly still good value for all the visitors to Stonham. Especially as most of them seemed to park on the road or walk to Stonham and enter for free. Good PR again for Stonham as it wasn’t really about making money. Probably more to do with getting people to Stonham that hadn’t been for a long while. The food was naturally good especially as we used the normal Burger Van food – which, as i’m sure everyone knows is good quality meat.
TO BE CONTINUED
What a week…. I must stop looking at the weather forecast. I’m terrible as i’m itching to do it already and it’s only Monday. I guarantee you that every week it starts off beautiful on a Monday and by Friday is awful. Last Friday, I must say that I should have guessed the weekend to come. On Friday evening I was stuck in traffic on the A12 coming back to Suffolk. By the time I got home I had missed the Bacton Firework Display and had to meet everyone round at Matts/Karen’s house (our friendly plumber). By the time we left (10 I think) it was definitely freezing and I still had to load the signs into the Land Rover.
By the time I had glued a few of them and loaded up it was starting to rain, which soon turned to sleet. To add to the fun my windscreen wipers decided to stop working and the smeary screen plus non working front light made the journey suitably hazardous by the second. I was contemplating driving with my head out the window but the freezing sleet quickly made it quite clear that that wasn’t a sensible option. The weather was pretty awful that evening and as fast as I managed to get them in the ground they were soaked. I didn’t finish till 2am and I was absolutely soaked and frozen. Weirdly though you still get that sense of satisfaction even at 2am. I hadn’t intended to do much on the saturday but, Needham called and off I went to see who was there and buy a few bits for the shop.
As usual the weather was ok and all was ready for Sunday to follow in the same vein.
I guess by now you can take imagine what happened Sunday Morning. Yes, starting fine and people started to turn up. Penny was against using the field and I agreed that it would be the last in the field, especially as the firework display was due on the Friday before the Car Boot.
TO BE CONTINUED
Got a bit behind doing this but will catch up quite quickly. Tuesday already. I must say that I was quite impressed last week with Buyers and Sellers. I’d been efficient all week and sadly mended all the boards and restuck them as I put them all in my shed. Hence, Friday night was a matter of loading them into the car and I was off round and off to the pub… But, I can’t remember what I was watching but I watched the end of a film said good night to kiddies and then left at 9pm to do the rounds. It was quite a damp, soggy evening but, I had a whole two hours to get to the pub. That’s another thing. I was reading the timetable of the pub in Stonham and noticed that it doesn’t officially shut till 11.30 on a Friday…… So, why didn’t they serve me at 11.01 then. Who knows, maybe they have changed their times or maybe they close at 11.30 but last drink is 11 I don’t know. Anyway, it was quite an easy evening. I managed to put everything deep into the ground knowing that they would remain upright even in monsoon.
I was up to the difficult junction where I place 6 boards and had 30 minutes to clear. I must ring that chap about banners in his fields. I was offered the chance to use his field to advertise Stonham Barns Car Boot. I must do that. I was also supposed to drop off leaflets and posters to the Museum at Stowmarket… so much to do.
Well, I was in the pub at 10 to 11 and out at 11. I had all the boards done by 12 and was looking forward to a warm Sunday and possibly cloudy Saturday. How wrong I was.
I was up at 6 and decided to pay Needham a visit and secretly drop a few leaflets on the sellers there. I always enjoy sneaking around Needham weaving in and out of the Yellow coated ones. I always bump into some of our regulars there.
Anyway as usual the day was lovely on Saturday and I was expecting the same on Sunday although the forecasts that had been good all week suddenly looked quite the opposite.
I was up bright and early as usual, loaded the food and all the signs that we put outside Stonham. I used to get people asking me if the Car Boot was on because we didn’t have the big sign outside but, I would like to think that everyone knows that we always open on a Sunday. I still get calls all week asking me if it’s on….. YES. We have to remove the signs directly after the Car Boot – and I mean all of them. The only one that is there all week is the one outside on Stonham’s event board.
I have this as our website advertising the Car Boot and we are all over the internet but i’m always happy to take any calls from anyone even if it’s the daftest of questions. So please do call me Sunday morning.
Sunday’s seem to be getting a little lighter each week now but when we get there it is black. Forecasts the day before had changed to rubbish and despite the darkness it looked like they would be wrong again. It was actually not that bad to start with. Sellers must have looked at the forecasts and unned and arred as to what the weather would do. It had rained through the night but, as usual, the grass at Stonham had absorbed a lot of it as it always manages to do.
We made a quick decision to put everyone on the Harder Ground by the field and start on that side because the grass was not filled with puddles but, was damp and I think many of the buyers without wellies would have ruined their brogues and leather shoes. Just as it looked like we would have a morning of life the clouds darkened and the first drips of rain emerged. As I have said I was quite surprised that despite the rain the sellers kept appearing as did the buyers. Of course, like most Car Boots, we are reliant upon decent weather and despite the totally obsessed buyers that want to buy irrespective it stops a lot of the fun Car Booters coming out. However, despite all of that I had a young lady called Clare that was adamant that she was going to sell and she and quite a few set up and battled on in the rain. This was actually her first Car Boot at Stonham and was only there because I handed her a leaflet at Needham the morning before. I liked her determination and the same with all the sellers. The sellers still bought from the 23 that had braved the morning. Although it wasn’t a normal day with crowds coming in it was still a mini Car Boot and I was pleased that we had quite a few people that hadn’t been before.
I could have taken fees from the sellers but, as I was pretty sure that it would rain and ruin the day I didn’t take any money from them. In the past I have taken money and then issued a free entrance to a future Car Boot at Stonham but, it didn’t seem right to do this. I think that most that come to Stonham and know us that run the Car Boot will know that we are pretty fair with this type of thing. One thing that definitely comes out of having the Car Boot in Winter is the 100% need for covers. I have now had plans for what I was hoping for and it will take a little time to get these made but, it should be good. It’s an expenditure that we could do without but, it should turn out to be the thing that finally makes everyone realise that we are a serious Car Boot. I want everyone to be aware that if it is a rubbish day they can still go to Stonham Barns as there will be a Car Boot irrespective. I haven’t given a fixed date as I still have to measure the area in question and make sure that everything will fit in as expected.
I have already had people ringing up to book a space in them but, i’m reluctant to do this as yet because I will start with the regular sellers and offer them the initial spaces. I have quite a few regular sellers at Stonham and I will let these people take the first places. Naturally, we will cater for as many that want to have spaces but, I have to give preference to people that have been to Stonham and sold there before. I know that we have a great reputation and everyone loves Stonham but, there are quite a lot of sellers waiting to hear that Stonham is heaving and the place to go before they are tempted to try Stonham. This is totally understandable because many people feel that they have built up regulars that go to where they are to buy off of them but, I can categorically say that these buyers generally go to all the Car Boots one after the other to see other sellers they also buy from. If it’s raining at other Car Boots they will be called off whereas we won’t. I can also guarantee that if we have 100 sellers that are interested in selling undercover at Stonham then I will get 100 stalls for them. If we grow too large for the Car park we will utilise other larger areas. If anyone wants to sell at Stonham (that hasn’t been before) I recommend that you email me or call me or better still come to Stonham and have a look round, say hello to me or take a pitch. We do have a good crowd of buyers at Stonham and although many are there only if it isn’t pouring down word will soon get round that Stonham will be pen in the rain so, we will quickly grow and become just as big in the rain. Exciting times ahead….
Anyway, this Sunday is like the last two. So far I have seen forecasts that are dry and potentially sunny but, the one on the TV said dull and rainy so, which one do you go with… We will be there from 6.15am irrespective and I’d like to think that as many of you as possible will load up Saturday and see what it looks like Sunday morning. By all means come down and have a chat.
I have a Butcher interested in selling at Stonham Barns which would be great to have as there really aren’t many Butchers around and open on a Sunday.. Hopefully we will see them appearing soon. Look forward to seeing many of you on Sunday 28th October.
The A14 was pants on the way home….. so much so that I didn’t get home till 9pm. I’d been meaning to mend all the signs all week but, by the time you get home each day the thought of going in the shed and repairing and sticking new signs on them isn’t massively inspiring. hence, every Friday I have to spend an hour or so doing it before I leave. This time, because of the weather the week before, I had to literally re-stick nearly all the signs. I didn’t get out the house until 10.30 which meant my chances of getting to the pub were somewhat slim.
I was going to still give it a go though, even if I missed a few out and did them after. However, Junction 51 at the roundabout of the A14, I was met by a distraught lady with her car broken down at the roundabout. Would I mind pushing the car onto the grass up the kerb, uphill! This certainly woke me up especially as I had to do it twice as she hadn’t turned the steering wheel and we were half on half off. Yet more stares from the locals driving past. I basically ended up towing her car back so I could push it back up again. This time I decided it was better if I did all the pushing and she concentrated on the steering only. My chances of the pub were now in tatters… 5 to 11 and I was off towards Needham to put the sign up.
As I did the roundabout at Junction 50 I realised that I hadn’t picked up the Needham sign so, I would have to go home and collect that at the end and make it the last one I do…
Was this a sign of the weekend ahead… It pretty much rained all the way round as I put up the boards. So, no chance of a break at the pub I venture on. It was slow and wet and the newly glued signs were not enjoying the rain. A bit of dull conversation here but, these boards have lived since May and although I have added quite a few they have survived pretty well. Penny keeps suggesting getting the rain proof printed versions but, at £3 for an A3 board and £4 for an A2 one 50 odd boards is a lot of money. I presently print everything off at work so, it’s definitely worthwhile re-sticking them often weekly. Quite a boring evening without incident and I finally pulled up at 2am to go to bed. Having got up at 5am that morning it was another long day.
I had planned many exploits to various Car Boots but, the long day had taken it’s toll and I couldn’t make it. I had to be up for 10am for Anya’s football training which was a big struggle to manage..
I spent much of the day watching the forecast for Sunday and was happy that it was going to be a nice day. I’d had a few calls and i was positive.
5am in the morning and it was blinking cold. The sky looked good but it was definitely cold…. However, as you gloom lifted it became promising followed by clear and suddenly we had a good day. The sad thing though was that all the forecasts had been wrong. Everyone that came had pondered the decision because they were expecting rain.
i feel that I may have to take the weather forecasters to court because they always get it wrong. Can you imagine doing the same in your own job. Yes, it’s red, definitely red, i’ll put my life on it being red. Oh… sorry it was blue. If I did the equivalent in my job I would be sacked. Following a Sunday I check the forecast every day. Every week it starts off saying Sunny with a few clouds and remains that way until about Thursday whereby it changes to rain and monsoon. Come Sunday you have no idea what the weather will be like. We have to hope that the locals look at the sky the night before and decide to pack the car up. As, come Sunday, if it is ok many of the sellers don’t have time to load and leave.
Anyway, we were faced with a beautiful morning and I have to say that I was disappointed because it would have been a busy day under normal circumstances. The big plus point was the fact that the buyers decided to turn up in force. We had 56 sellers and they were probably rubbing their hands together because it’s less for the buyers to look at.
It’s that same scenario that we often get at Stonham. When we have had lots of sellers we get less Buyers and when we have less sellers we have loads of buyers. On a positive note we have been getting a lot of new sellers and I also gauge how many of the buyers are driving in unsure of where to go. So, we are growing all the time. I had a few stories of great sales and as usual, a few that say that they hadn’t sold that well. I have got to the point where I tend to doubt some of the people’s figures. I have some that want to cheer me when I have asked how they have got on, I have some that remember me offering free sales pitches in the past so, always say they have had poor weeks. Others are doing it to clear the loft and are genuinely chuffed to go home with less than they started. £40 to one person is great whereas £90 to another is poor. It’s hard satisfying everyone. One Lady had said she had sold £170 worth but, i’m not sure whether that was to support me.
I’m certainly not moaning about the sellers and their figures as I enjoy watching the faces on all of the sellers. We do have our regulars and I think that most enjoy Stonham Barns naturally everyone would like to sell everything but, we are only a platform. Everyone knows that one person with loadsamoney can make your day brilliant. You can take the same items every week and get a different result. It’s bizarre why some things sell brilliantly one week and pathetically the next. I do observe everything that goes on at the Car Boot and you can tell immediately if someone will sell well. There’s always one stall that suddenly has everyone standing round it. These tend to be the person that does a Car Boot once a year and completely under estimates the value of their items. The hardened Car Booters have been to auctions bought cheaply and pretty much know if they will be lucky or not. Others know that they have the same stock and will be lucky to do well. it’s a fascinating game at a Car Boot.
When Stonham Barns Car Boot Sale started in May I used to go and hide until I felt happy with the number of sellers and buyers. Each Saturday I barely slept worrying about whether we had any sellers. Each week you envisaged having thousands of Buyers driving in and there being one seller. Luckily we never had that. At the first week I think we had 17 sellers and that was after Penny had irrationally chosen one week to advertise the start of the Car Boot. I managed to get 2 but, it was a miracle that we had so many Sellers and Buyers at the Car Boot from day one.
The problems we have now is that we can’t advertise the Car boot till the Friday and have to stop on the Sunday. The council will close you down if you don’t adhere to these rules. At the same time I see events advertised for weeks and months and nothing seems to stop them from doing this. Admittedly they are probably one offs but, they are the same venues that will have another one two months later. I wonder why the council ignore this.
Speaking of which we seem to get more trouble from the people that live in Stonham complaining about Stonham Barns that any other venue. Because of this we have the council vetting how many people come into the Car Boot and how it affects the traffic etc etc. Weirdly though, the council have given the Car Boot flying colours and are completely happy with it being where it is and how it is run. It just seems to be other events at Stonham Barns that are watched very closely. Surely the locals are happy that they have something so interesting so close to them. Stonham Barns is quite a one off and really should grow and grow into a brilliant venue again as it used to be in the past. Anyway, once again thanks for everyone’s support.
Blimey, look at that fog…
As usual I was late home on Friday. I do still work in London, Monday to Friday which means that I have to work quickly to get everything done in the time. I have an hour to mend the boards and load them in the car and set off. On Friday is was raining and it wasn’t just gentle rain. I’d restuck 75% of the boards which meant that they were going out wet. I finally left at about 9.45pm and my 11 pm drink was looking out of the question.
I’ve probably said the same thing over and over but, the only joy of going out in the rain is the peace and quiet, the strange look from other drivers and last but not least, the wonderful soft soil. Suddenly I can put the boards anywhere. On a dry day, as well as coping with the dark, you have to spend ages trying to dig a hole that hasn’t got a million stones in it. Someone said to me the other day, that read this, why the hell do you do this on a Friday Night. I do it because I want to do it. To me if I don’t do it on a Friday I waste the chance for the weekend traffic to see the boards. I place one outside Needham just to get ourselves noticed. We are on the tourist route so, people must see them. I’ve had people ask if the Car Boot is on when I don’t put them out.. The answer is always yes, we are always on.
I managed to get round quite quickly and by carefully missing out signpost corner I was able to appear at The Ten Bells at Stonham. One quick drink later I was out doing the rest of the boards. By 12.30 I was finished. The final board always feels like the nicest moment in life but, probably not as good as collecting the final board on Sunday when I collect them.
I’d love to leave the boards up all week and just go round re-sticking each one but, the council insist that we can put them up Friday evening and must collect them Sunday after the Car Boot. Straight to bed and I can finally look forward to the weekend.
My planned lie in was interrupted by house noise and considering it pelted down most the evening before I was shocked to see it was now rain free and the sun was out. Forecasts for the weekend were good Saturday better Sunday so, I was confident of a good Car Boot on Sunday. i had to pick a bath up from Lavenham and decided to drop leaflets on route at various shops and noticeboards. For me I actually had quite a relaxing Saturday.
I’d had quite a lot of calls over the week and this tied in with the weather forecast meant that I was looking forward to Sunday and was already planning how to place people that wanted to stay longer. Saturday was quite a nice evening so nothing could stop the car boot… or so I thought.
As usual the alarm went off at 5am and i stumbled into action. It was pitch black outside and difficult to tell whether it was going to be as expected but, there was no rain and I filled the car up with the normal collection of Boards, food and items for the food trailer. We needed milk so, we stopped off at the petrol station. By the time I had filled up some petrol it was starting to get foggy. We have had this on many mornings but, I wasn’t bothered as it soon disappears as the sun comes out.
We arrived at the Car boot at 5.15 and there was one seller there already. I did the usual ritual of getting the food trailer, lighting the kettle and then setting up the fences around the Car Boot. We started to fill up and by 7.30 we had a few rows and the new stay late section filling nicely. Round about this point I seem to fight against the people that decide they want to sit in a certain position and shoot across the field irrespective of me waving in front of them. We had quite a lot of new sellers and anyone new seems used to being squeezed into a Car Boot. I think I must shock them when I ask them how much room they want. The only problem with the Sellers is that so many of them can’t drive and park in a straight line. They are so used to having insufficient room that if I let them park on their own there would be 4 cars in a row instead of the normal 9 or 10. I normally work it in such a way that the last row by the food trailer should be facing another row instead of having the last two rows both facing the same way. Unless I squeeze the cars quite close to each (smaller walkways) it nearly ends up with a wasted row.
I know that I have squeezed 99 sellers in there on one week so, when we are looking full with 70 odd you know that it is down to the way everyone parks. Now, as pointed out earlier, it had been quite foggy when I got the petrol and now it was getting more and more difficult to see across the field.
This was so disappointing because I know that we must have had a good 30 sellers looking out the window thinking to themselves it won’t be on in this or it wouldn’t be worth it in this weather. By 9 am we had 56 sellers and although this was done on the week before it was pretty good seeing as it was pretty foggy. i was also really heartened by the fact that the buyers still ignored the fog and came out. Obviously a lot of the Stonham crowd would have looked out the window and decided to stay in but, it was a steady flow of people all day and despite the fog remaining till 1 or 2 pm i would say that the crowd was pretty good considering. On days like this I just hope that the sellers that had come for the first time weren’t disheartened by the fact that they hadn’t sold as well as expected. Having said that though I did speak to a few sellers that had sold over £100 worth so, it wasn’t all doom and gloom. I’ve said this a million times but, if the fog had cleared we would have had twice as many people at Stonham Barns as it really does have a great atmosphere when the sun is out. Blinking weather. It’s weird though i always find that the sellers are almost trying to cheer me up when the weather is a bit gloomy or they haven’t sold brilliantly. They know that it can change from week to week. There is a recession but, some weeks clothes sell well, the next it’s antiques and so on. We always have the odd seller underselling and they always sell well. Something I was going to say to people is that we do take in items if they just want to get rid of stuff. I often find the dustbins are full of antiques and videos. We can collect these and pass them onto charities if you don’t want to take them home. I think I may put another sign up for this as well.. as if i haven’t got enough signs to put up.
Overall though, despite the fog, it wasn’t a bad Car Boot. The stay longer section stayed to one to two o clock and most the people that said they may leave earlier were still there at 12.30 so, it wasn’t finished off by the fog. I expect that many sellers were pleasantly surprised by the number of buyers that came out in the fog. As usual I wandered round and talked to many of the sellers. The general consensus is that they again love the Car Boot as it’s so friendly, which it is. They like the fact that there isn’t anyone waiting to look in your boot. Others spoke about having people steal things from their cars when there were a lot looking in the back of the cars. Our Car Boot is not like that. I don’t think that anyone would allow that to happen. It just isn’t that mentality. Occasionally we get people that look like they are hardened buyers but, even they fall into line and realise that it just isn’t the way people behave at Stonham. So, another week over. Again, i’m disappointed. Just when we have the chance to really grow (picking up Sellers from other Car Boots) we have poor weather that puts off many people. Still, you live and learn. We will of course go through this all again next week starting with me taking your calls and going through my normal advertising procedures. If you go on Twitter and Facebook do follow us and retweet where you can. I also have a separate Google account and another Blog that advertises the Car Boot.
We do everything we can to promote the Car Boot but, if you like going do tell as many as possible as possible as we are going to running all through Winter and will move onto the hard ground and supply an overhead cover for Buyers/Sellers that enables us to carry on in the rain. By telling everyone about this will give you all somewhere to go even when it rains. I think that most people must be aware of Stonham Barns but, many are still waiting for us to become huge before they come… which would be a shame as I still think that the huge Car Boots lose their individuality and also become over run with commercial sellers. We are a traditional car boot where you can pick up bargains rather than buy washing up liquid and detergents. We have a general store at Stonham Barns in the parade if you want to buy that.
One last thing. We do get a lot of buyers at Stonham Barns. Many have a look at the Car Boot and then drive off. Do take some time to have a look around Stonham Barns as there really is so much going on behind the Car Boot. Have a look round the shops, the Owl Sanctuary (you will be surprised how good it is in there – Meerkats, Red Squirrels, Birds of Prey, Owls (obviously) plus many more), Golf, Fishing, Livery, Reptile House, Toy Shop, Antique Furniture & Antiques, Home and Cane Furniture, Restaurant, Hairdressers, Camping & Caravan Site plus sales, Clothes shop, Post Office that’s open on a Sunday – you can even buy your lottery tickets there. Take some time to have a look as many of these shops are also offering bargains as well. I can obviously vouch for one of the Antique shops as I have to collect half the furniture that’s sold in there. They offer Upholstery and also courses in sewing, upholstery and furniture painting. Much of the furniture on sale has been priced to sell. You will find the same in all the shops there.
Anyway, another week and we will be in the same newspapers, a few extra magazines and appearing on notice boards shop windows and everywhere online as well as, of course, sign posts from Friday evening.
Lookout for us appearing permanently in a few fields in the coming weeks as I have almost agreed to do this…..
Finally, i’m sure I’ve mentioned it ten times or more but, market stalls and covers are on order so, we will become the Car Boot to go to and become the first real ALL WEATHER CAR BOOT.