successful car boot sale tips

Tips for buying at car boot sales

I love a car boot sale. They’re great for a Sunday morning mooch, especially if you’re on the look out for a certain something for your home or children. You can get some real bargains. If you’re not familiar with them, basically it’s a huge sale where sellers buy a space and sell out of their car. They can be small charity events, or huge car boot sales run by professionals – largely on a regular schedule over the warmer months of the year. There’s definitely some tips for buying at car boot sales, so you can find buying tips below.

If you’re planning on selling at a car boot sale and have never done so before, then do go and check out my post on car boot sale tips for sellers.  It’s a mammoth post, with tips for every type of eventuality. As a seller there’s definitely more to think about in order to make some money, and keep an eye on your table and items for sale. You can get easily overwhelmed.

Luckily for buyers, it’s an easier slightly more relaxing time. But there’s also helpful hints if you’re buying at car boot sales.

successful car boot sal0e tips

Tips for buying at car boot sales

  1. Take cash (ideally change).  Most places nowadays are all about card sales, but for car boot sales, it’s all individual buyers, selling their own odds and sods. So everything’s cash (except maybe any food vans). Sellers should have some float, but if you’re in buying early, and want to buy with notes, sellers might struggle to provide change without you wiping them out for other later buyers. At the other extreme, don’t empty your penny jar to take with you.
  2. Take a bag (ideally reusable).  Nowadays you have to pay for plastic carrier bags in shops, so sellers are unlikely to have any to hand out. So do take your reusable bags for your purchases. Much better for the environment. If you’re buying a few items, think about a shopping bag on wheels, or a camping/festival trolley. Just keep an eye on it otherwise you might find items being taken from it while you’re not watching it.
  3. Watch out for young children.  Most people walk along at car boot sales with their head turned left or right to look at stalls, and are oblivious to dogs or small children that they can’t see.  So many times my son was been nearly hit with people’s bags because they’re just walking blindly along.
  4. Shop quickly.  Car boot sales are busy, so don’t spend ages perusing one item and not leaving space for other buyers to get to tables. Move over to the side if you’re dawdling to look at something in detail or to talk to the stall holder.  That means others can get in for a look.
  5. If you’re on a budget, take a list and stick to it. Yes, most things are an absolute bargain, but don’t just buy things because they’re a bargain.
  6. Buy when you see it. If you see something you really want but want to shop around, don’t assume it’ll be there when you come back.  You can ask if people will put something behind for you, but in my experience people don’t tend to return. So don’t expect people to do so – it’s fair to ask if it can be reserved for a certain time period but that won’t guarantee it won’t be sold if someone comes and offers the full price, especially if its a large item they want to get rid of. It’s not like a shop – some people want to sell and get out of there. They don’t want to be stuck with it if you don’t return.  It’s different if you buy and want them to hold on to it for you while you shop. Just return by the agreed time as they might want to leave earlier than the end.
  7. Be patient, don’t go and look in people’s boots. Especially if they’re trying to unpack. It’s rude and makes it so much harder for the seller to get everything out and set up, especially if they’re on their own. You’re also making it hard for them to see who’s trying to buy items. Yes people do it, but in my view, it’s rude. 
  8. Do ask questions.  If you’re not sure, or want to ensure you’re not getting a dodgy or broken item, then do ask.  You have to take a risk but most sellers are truthful and would admit if something’s broken.
  9. Ask the price. Most car boot sale items don’t have price tags, although some might have a box of items with a set price.. So you will need to ask. Don’t be scared to ask. Be friendly, because they might offer you the item at a lower price, especially towards the end of the day.
  10. Haggle.  Haggling is acceptable, but don’t take the mickey, unless it’s the end of the day. If you’re friendly, you stand more chance of getting a better deal on haggling. Do recognise who are the professional sellers compared with people just clearing out their houses. There might be a difference in the way to haggle or prices to offer.

Hopefully these tips will help you out if you’re visiting a car boot sale as a buyer.  They’re great fun, although can be quite frantic as a buyer and seller.  Don’t forget to check out my car boot seller tips post.

Are you a car boot sale fan?  Do you buy or sell, and have any tips to add?

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  1. I haven’t been to a car boot since I was a child. I really want to go to one again, Thanks for some great tips! x

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