If you know what you like and you enjoy searching for it, jumble sales are the
perfect hunting ground, where you can find exciting treasures sandwiched between the home-made jams and moth-eaten garments.
JumbIe sales are one of the most British of institutions.
They are held all over the country, in cities, towns and villages, usually on a Saturday or on a weekday evening.
They are invariably organized to support a charity, with all proceeds going to a good cause. Some organizations
collect jumble over the year to put on a really good display, and these sales in particular are well worth attending.
Favourite venues are church halls, Scout huts, village and town halls, schools, and so on. Advertising is limited (because the cost eats into profits)
and is usually in the local newspaper.
There are usually posters outside the building and in local shop windows. Parish magazines often give dates, too, but some jumble sales reach their audience simply by word of mouth.
GO FOR IT
To be a jumble sale winner, you'll have to have patience,
tenacity - and sharp elbows. You should also equip yourself with a large shopping bag or several carrier bags (make sure they have stout handles) in which to place your
purchases - it is difficult to rummage around while precariously holding your finds under one arm.
Another requisite is plenty of small change. If you hand a helper a large
note, you can often lose a bargain to another while the helper searches for change.
Avoid taking a handbag, as this will only get in the way, but make sure your purse is tucked away firmly in a deep pocket.
The queue to go in will often form some hours before the sale is due to begin, and customers will happily stand outside, even in the pouring rain, in anticipation of a bargain.
You should be equipped with sensible shoes
and weatherproof coat if there is likelihood of rain, but avoid cumbersome umbrellas.
There is almost always an entrance fee, but this is
usually very modest. Try to have the exact money ready; jumble sale goers get really annoyed if they are
prevented from getting at the bargains by a delay in the queue.
Inside you will find goods heaped onto tables in a willy-nilly fashion and buyers
are encouraged to rummage through them (hence the old name of rummage sale).
The only order is in the classification of goods and these are
generally divided into furniture, books, clothes, children's toys, metalware - which can range from saucepans to garden tools china and glass.
Antiques and collectables are thrown in with modern knick-knacks, and the condition of the goods is almost immaterial to the organizers; some things will be falling to pieces and others will be new and unused.
It doesn't pay to spend too much time examining just one article for damage - while you're doing that, six bargains may have gone to the
person next to you.
Prices at jumble sales are so cheap that it will cost you very little to gamble against a crack or chip in china or glass.
LAW OF THE JUNGLE
So you've arrived early, stood in line with the rest of the eager buyers, handed over your entrance money, and now you're about to go in and find that treasure you just know is earmarked for you.
The trouble is, everyone else wants a bargain, too, and the minute the doors are open, an unseemly scrum develops.
People surge forward, often taking you with them, and cram the front of the table or counter. Normal standards of politeness do not prevail, so if you see what you want, grab it.
If you can't see at all, you must try to burrow your way to the front. Once you have your find in
your hands, hang on to it - choice items have been known to be wrested from the grasp of an unsuspecting novice.
What to buy? Anything at all. You could look for antiques of the future. Items from the 1950s and 1960s are now becoming collectable.
Look out for 'Bendy' toys, mechanical robots and space ships among the toys, check for designer labels in clothes.
Stylish ceramics are on the up and up; why not keep an eye open for designs by Susan Clough Ellis (Portmeirion Pottery), Sir Terence Conran and Jessie Tait (Midwinter)?
• Those who run the jumble sale usually cast a keen eye over what's on
sale and snap up many of the best bargains before the
doors open, so if you can't beat them why not join them? Run a sale yourself or help organize the
collection of jumble.
• Items of obvious value, such as silver or Georgian furniture, are unlikely to appear, but there
can be real bargains among the
books, pictures and pottery if you know your subject.
• Buy what you like and can use.