I mentioned the other week that my brother and I had done a car boot sale. Neither of us had done one for a while, although I do occasionally drop in for a bit of a nosy round in case I spot books or games for N. But we needed to start clearing out our mum’s house so we don’t get to the end of Summer and just have to store or skip everything. It was a case of working out what to sell at a car boot sale.
We had an interesting time nosying at what we’d found in the roof (more on that another time) – can’t believe how much we still have to go through, but we don’t really want to just flog everything to a house clearance team for about £50. So us clearing it gradually is how we’re tackling the clear out.
We decided to go to a different car boot sale a bit further away – it’s a massive one on a Saturday morning, and we were hopeful we’d be able to clear out most of the car’s boxes. It was a really hot day, and we did ok in the end, although nowhere near what we’ve done before with less items to sell. It looks like we’ll be out again this Sunday but closer to home and hopefully will manage to clear more out again.
Here are my tips for selling at a car boot sale.
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1, Pack the car in reverse to how you want to remove items. Put tables on top, easily accessible, and a tarpaulin or blanket is handy to have items laid out on for people to browse through. Generally 2 fold out tables* length is good (we didn’t have enough). In an ideal world I’d have liked to have had U type shape of tables so we could sit or stand in the middle. You can also have boxes of similarly priced items but I find people never look under the tables. Boxes at the ends work well for similar items like books or CDs.
2, Put valuable items on show near you, and keep your money hidden. I’ve been at a car boot sale on my own, where a Discman (remember them?) was on the table, but someone moved it onto the ground, and next thing it was gone. Money belts are good, although the one we did recently, we just used pockets, then removed all the notes to a cash box* as and when pockets got full.
3, Take a float. That means lots of change, denominations dependent on what sort of price you’re selling for. We went with about £19 in change and that was fine.
4, Take plastic bags for people to use. But only give them to people who are buying, unless obviously you see a pregnant lady struggling carrying loads of stuff. Most people nowadays bring reusable bags, but when I’m buying I never do as it’s usually a spontaneous visit..
5, Go with a friend. You’ll be bored stiff otherwise, and you need someone to watch the money while you’re talking or vice versa. It also helps with keeping dealers out of the boot while you’re trying to unload at the same time.
6, Generally the rule is don’t price items. I mostly agree with this, but if you’ve got a huge box of cds, dvds, similar books, then why not have a price for them. I’ve also seen odds and ends of toys in boxes with ‘any item 10p’ style sign. But mostly, have an idea of what you want to sell items for, then be prepared to haggle (or not).
7, On arrival, unless you want to have people digging in your boot while you’re trying to set up, then lock the doors and sit in the car for a while…or at least until all the dealers have gone past to the next few cars pulling up. You could end up with people unpacking and scavenging in your boxes before you’ve got an idea of prices. These people will offer silly money because a lot will be looking for items they want to go off and sell on their pitch.
8, Arrive a bit before the opening time advertised. Car boot sales always used to open gates earlier for sellers but that’s rare now. So the gates will generally be open before the stated time, with buyers and sellers able to enter together.
9, Take seats, sun lotion, drinks and snacks. You don’t want to eat all your takings, get sun burnt (you will in any weather after standing around for 4+ hours) or get dehydrated. I find people prefer to approach and talk to sellers when they’re standing up, but my legs get tired so I like to have a break occasionally.
10, Don’t be surprised at what sells. My experience is, the items you think won’t go, will be the first to go. Our comedy item this time was a purple immaculate Fiorelli purse. It must have been the most picked up item on our table. Pretty much every woman picked it up, and some men. In the end we asked someone why they’d picked it up as everyone else picked it up but didn’t even ask the price. She asked the price, put it down to pick up her purse, and someone else picked it up. Turned out it was her neighbour and they ended up arguing over who would have it. We were determined to sell that purse, but just couldn’t understand why it wouldn’t sell.
But then we had some old model fix made up aeroplanes from our dad’s childhood that my brother brought along on the off chance, and they were snapped up – all 4 boxes of them!
11, Be prepared to visit the charity shop on the way home. If you want to just get rid of everything, then be prepared that it might take several trips, otherwise we detour home via a charity shop and then the tip for anything that we know just will not sell at other sales.
12, Allow for price reductions for broken or chipped items, but people will still buy depending on what the item is, the age, or if it can be washed. I had a dealer about to buy a Kipling handbag which had a dirt smudge. He wouldn’t take it even though it would have washed fine. The next person to pick it up bought it without haggling, saying she’d just put it through the wash.
13, If things are a bit quiet, try talking to people who approach. Most buyers keep their heads down, lots don’t come over. But if they’re coming and touching items, and you’re talking to them, it makes it harder for them to put an item down.
What sells well:
Freebies (mail order freebies, make up samples, collectables that you might have collected tokens and sent off for), make up, nail polish and skin care (even half used), toys, stationery (my brother couldn’t believe people bought blank postcards and a wad of envelopes, DVDs, sports equipment, old collectables – playing cards, games, toys
- Shoes – dependent on size (we had size 6 gorgeous brand new Gabor boots and no one was the right size), although my old dancing character shoes were snapped up.
- Books – kids do, adults depend on the people,
- Records/CDs – in the past I’ve struggled to sell any, on this occasion, it was what people were asking for as we stepped out of the car.
- Clothes – I don’t like scrambling through clothing, if it’s on a rail, you’ll sell more.
- China/crockery/ornamental display items – everything depends on the buyers. We had a lot of decorative plates. Way more than charity shops would want, so we thought we’d be tipping them afterwards.Then a chinese couple turned up and grabbed a stack of around 15 oriental style plates. My brother told them 20p a plate (ridiculously low price) or £2 the lot. So they snapped those up, along with another two stacks of decorative ‘tea’ plates for another £2. My brother just wanted rid, and it certainly made the car more fuel efficient on the way home. But that was lucky, and that’s how it goes at car boot sales.
As this became a mammoth post, I’ve done a separate post on having a successful car boot sale as a buyer. Hopefully you’ll be able to use these tips if you’re selling at a car boot sale..
Have you sold at a car boot sale before? What was your surprise sale? If you have any tips of your own, do share them in the comments below
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