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Peckham Carboot: Your New Sunday Obsession

Original 1980s Fleetwood Mac merch, magazines devoted to a young Leo DiCaprio, 00s cheetah-print zip-ups; do I have your attention? Welcome to the holy grail of Sunday activities: Peckham car boot. Here you will find a mass of fashionable students, retro art sellers, and those looking to find their next one-of-a-kind steal.

When I left my cosy coastal town for big ol’ London, I didn’t grieve for my favourite coffee shops or the fish and chips, but I grieved the loss of small-town car boot sales. A tenner in hand and a black coffee from a guy in a worn hi-vis vest - that was the pinnacle of my teenhood. Then, one Sunday last year, I was reluctantly pulled to a car boot sale in Peckham, and suddenly, my perception of the city transformed.

Whether you’re interested in vintage designer, handcrafted decorations, or timeless furniture, your morning will be well spent here. The sale itself is held on the playground of a school in Peckham called Harris Academy. Don’t be fooled, however, this is serious stuff. The queue to enter stretches around the residential street before they even open. Entry is £1 from 10:30am, or early bird is £5 from 10am. Though the early bird entry offers the best shot at finding a diamond in the rough, there is a lot of rough to get through. My advice is to save that £4, make a wish, and do your thing when you get inside—that extra 30 minutes will go much faster than you’d like. The sale runs every two Sundays, and you can check via their Instagram: @peckham.carboot.

Images Courtesy of Peckham Carboot

Going along to the car boot is really a no-brainer; it's cheap entry, and it starts much later than any other car boot I’ve gone along to. My friends and I have never had a ‘bad’ shopping day here, but be prepared to spend a little money! Most vendors have plenty of change, some will accept PayPal if you run out of money, and some even have contactless card machines. My advice would be to bring plenty of cash (there aren’t any ATMs nearby!), but if you do run out, don’t hesitate to ask the vendor if they take other forms of payment as many do

If you’re interested in selling at the car boot, then it is just as, maybe even more, enjoyable. Pitches are for a maximum of 2 people if you arrive by foot, or 2-3 people if you’re by car. By foot, pitches are £12 for 1 person, or £17 for 2. The process of setting up your pitch is probably the hardest part. As the gates open at 9:30 a.m. for sellers, vendors will swarm into the playground, attempting to get the best spot. From my experience, the best areas will be in the main playground, pitched against a bench or small wall. Your legs will thank you later when you have somewhere to sit!

A day of selling here is all about meeting new people, hanging out with your friends, and making a little extra cash (though beware of spending it all on the other stalls). I’ve had a stall recently with some friends, and it was one of my favourite days of 2023. You’ll have customers bartering for less, but we didn’t have anybody trying to completely lowball us - having a rough idea of our pricing beforehand made it a lot easier to know what offers were bad offers. Between us, we made over £300, and there are regular sellers that make even more. If you’re looking for a side hustle, maybe Peckham car boot is it.

The sustainability of car-boot sales is just another reason why you should go along. In a society where fast fashion and single-wear clothing is trendy and dominating the market, buying unique clothes from others in your community is just a tiny step we can take to battle against it. Clothes Aid estimates that roughly “£140 million worth of used but still wearable clothing goes to landfill in the UK every year.” Not only can you make some major spare cash by selling your old clothes, but you can also help the UK to reduce carbon, water, and waste by selling clothes you no longer reach for any more.

Some tips from a Peckham car boot veteran: if you arrive at entry time, you’ll get a chance at the best stuff, but if you stay to do a sweep between 1:30 p.m. and 2 p.m. (when the sale ends), you’re going to get the best prices. Most sellers will halve their prices in the last moments of the car boot because they just don’t want to lug everything home again. This is where you can get your steal. Another tip I’ve had to learn the hard way is, if you love it, buy it. This is especially difficult if you arrive for the chaos of the first couple hours, but if you love something and leave it for your final sweep, it just won’t be there. My best advice is to grab it and sell it later if you change your mind, or say goodbye to it the second you put it back down. Finally, be prepared for a lot of people scavenging for their next fashion staple, but ultimately, everybody is there for the same reason as you, so you should focus on having fun!

To keep up with Peckham Carboot, you can find them on Instagram or via their website.


Edited by Faye Elder, London and Beyond Editor


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