Car Boot Sale for Beginners Guide

Guide to Car Boot SaleHaving recently gone to my first ever car boot sale, there were a lot of things I thought would have been nice to know beforehand, that prompted me to write this guide. I was lucky enough to go along with someone who had been a few times before, and he helped me avoid most of the mistakes of a newcomer, but even then, there were some things that caught me off guard. As a novice myself, I want to point out a few of the things that I noticed, and things that I think will be helpful to others who may be new to this. By giving my observations, you can learn what worked for me, and find out what I wish I had known when I went.

  1. Know what to expect – Car boot sales are the playground of bargain hunters – if you have something you feel is worth a lot of money, you’re probably best off selling it elsewhere. These events are for selling those things that you have lying around the house that you don’t need, but aren’t worth your time selling on eBay because the postage and fees would near enough wipe out any earnings. This is of course a generalisation, and many people may suggest a different strategy, this is just what I noticed.
  2. Preparation is key – Plan when you are going to do it and work towards that date. In reality a car boot isn’t going to take that much effort if you do it right. Leave it till the night before to gather your items, however, and you’re likely to have a stressful evening. Get yourself a system, perhaps a box or two that you add to each time you come across something you no longer want. Add to this over the days and weeks and you’ll be surprised how quickly it builds, and how much clutter you have! It’s also worth mentioning to friends and family that you’re doing one, they might have things they have been meaning to throw out that they will instead donate to you (if it’s no good, you can always throw it out anyway). They may even want to come along with you.
  3. Know the rules – Understand how the car boot sale you’re going to works. What time do you need to arrive, how much is entry and so on. There are also restrictions on the sale of certain goods, knives, medicines etc. Ask for a leaflet so you don’t fall foul of them. It’s most likely you’ll just have it politely pointed out to you if you are doing something wrong, but you don’t want to risk getting in the owners bad books unnecessarily.
  4. Know your car boot sale pricesHave a price in mind – People are going to ask you what price you’re looking for – that’s how selling works. Having a price in mind helps avoid embarrassment as you fumble, but more importantly helps stop you getting ripped off. You don’t want to be kicking yourself as a hard nosed haggler walks off with your prized Alan Partridge DVD collection for the paltry sum of 50p. For items you think are worth a bit, it’s worth checking somewhere like eBay to know how much you could get for it, and then don’t drop below that (although be sure to take into account fees, postage etc.) This handy fee calculator can help you see your actual profit on eBay sales. Be willing to haggle, not everyone will want to, but some will. This makes pricing slightly tricky – you want to go high enough to give yourself some wiggle room for those who like to haggle, but you need to remain realistic enough to not put off those those who take that as a set price. It is more of an art than a science, and probably something only practice and observing others can help with.
  5. Be Alert – It can be quite an enjoyable outing, but you nevertheless need to treat this as a mornings work with your precious stock rather than a doozy with your mate. Thankfully it didn’t happen to me, but I was warned that people can get a bit handsy, and items can ‘disappear’ – particularly at the start as you unpack your items. It helps to have at least one other person with you, so someone can always be manning the stool. There’s no need to bring the guard dog, but a bit of vigilance will help you avoid becoming a victim.
  6. Beware the Vulchers – One of the biggest surprises to me was that as soon as we pulled up, there was a small crowd already around us. Personal space is a lesson they must have skipped growing up, as they were right up to me pawing through our items. If they found something they liked the look of they would be demanding my attention to agree a price. They are clearly keen to garner off the best stuff before anyone else had a chance. I think part of their tactic must be to catch you in a bit of a fluster and trick you into agreeing to a low price. Have your own strategy ready for this. You may choose to brush them off and get on with unpacking, or you may want to take advantage of the chance to shift some stuff early on. But know your prices and don’t be intimidated.
  7. Have the right Equipment – A table is pretty essential, but could easily be overlooked. Make sure you have some kind of surface to display it all on. This is the time to call in any favours you might be owed. Local churches, scout groups, community centres and so on, are likely to have something. Ask around, perhaps someone will be kind enough to lend you one, or better yet they might want to get in on the act with you and be your car boot wing(wo)man. If you intend to sell clothes, then a clothes rail is a better bet than a jumbled pile on the floor. Get some coathangers and display items nicely. Also consider collecting up the plastic bags you have lying around the house – people appreciate you being able to offer them a bag if they need one. It’s unlikely to make you any extra profit, but it will make you a nice person, which is just as good. It can also help build up rapport with the punters, you can always jokingly throw one in for free if they’re pushing you hard on a haggle.
  8. Decide if it’s worth taking home – There are some things you take that you will feel ok about packing into the boot at the end of the day. Others might not be worth your time even transporting home. Be aware of the time and as it wears on, bring down your price on those items you just want rid of. I had an old stereo that had been getting interest all day, but nobody was biting at my £15 price tag. Because it was proving popular, I was reluctant to lower my price too soon. However, it was a bulky thing and I didn’t want to be bringing it home. As we were packing it up, I dropped it to £10, only for the lady on the stall opposite me to come over and buy it. I was happy I wasn’t taking it home, she was happy she had a bargain, and I was also £10 better off. I also unloaded a bag of canned drinks for 50p – they were worth more, yes, but I didn’t want them so decided they were better off gone. Weigh up whether it’s worth keeping, or flogging for any price.
  9. Have a Float – I was no mug,  I had prepared a collection of change to take along. However, a fat lot of good it did me left on my bedroom surface as I was halfway to the venue. Luckily my car boot mentor was kind enough to lend me some of his, so I got by.  Without that though, I would have been stuffed. With no change to provide people, I would have had to adopt some fairly dodgy pricing strategies. Have a float and a container to keep it in that is easily accessible, but obviously keep it safe. A few people I saw had money pouches that go around the waist – that struck me as a sensible solution

    For some, the bum bag isn't just a handy place to store cash, but  also a fashion statement

    For some, the bum-bag isn’t just a handy place to store cash, but also a bold fashion statement

  10. Know what sells – Get an idea of what is popular, and what sells at a good price. I’m sure it varies slightly with each venue, but I observed a few real gems. Electronics, especially mobile phones fly off the tables, however, perhaps not always at the top prices you could get elsewhere. Childrens toys and clothing are another good bet. DVD’s go down well, although don’t expect more than £1 a DVD. Video games also seemed to do well, and could get a decent amount depending on what platform they are for. Consider going along as a buyer one week to suss things like this out at your venue of choice – this will help you have a better idea of how things work, and the kind of prices to expect.
  11. Draw in the Punters – The key is to get people to browse your stall. Think of a way that is going to make people want to come to your stall rather than the 5 others right next to you. This could be anything from your dazzling wit, to a beautifully presented stand, or a box of items with a large sign saying “everything in the box just 50p” – just think what you can do best to pull in the passers by. You can’t sell anything until someone is looking at your stuff!

I’m sure there is more to add, but this is a list I would have been very glad of before I attended my first car boot sale, so I hope others find it helpful. If you think there is anything I have missed, be sure to share any tips or experiences you might have in the comments below.

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Comments

  1. Look for my little pony toys !!! I buy them for 10 p each to 2 or 3 pound and sell them else where for more !!! I brought one for 3 pounds and I sold it to a USA collector for 50 dollars !!!! ( she also paied for shipping and post !)

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    Beginners guide on how to make the most out of a car boot sale….

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