For years I have loved mooching around a car boot sale on a Sunday morning, but when it comes to selling at them it can be a different matter. It can be quite stressful if you’re not prepared. I usually do one or two a year. Here are a few tips for surviving the car boot seller experience:
- Ask around locally for recommendations of the best car boot sale to do and find out the time you actually need to arrive rather than the advertised time. Some allow you to set up before buyers come in and at others, it is a bit of a free for all.
- Check out the car boot sale first to see how much space you get and plan your wares accordingly.
- Enlist a helper. You will need someone to help you serve and keep an eye on the stall, especially when unpacking or if you have to nip to the loo.
- Get/borrow a couple of pasting tables, a ground sheet and clothes rail.
IN PREPARATION FOR A CAR BOOT SALE
- Get together a cash float with a quantity of £5, £1 and 50p.
- Take a packed lunch and lots of drinks and snacks in a cool bag.
- Pack sunscreen, sunglasses, hat if needed or a plastic cover if showers are likely.
- A pen, pad, post-its, scissors and tape can come in handy.
- Take a money bag/bum bag to keep your cash on you.
- When packing your car, leave the tables, clothes rack and plastic sheeting til last so they are the first items out of the car enabling you to set up first.
PRICING TO SELL AT A CAR BOOT SALE
- Some people don’t price and just allow the public to ask. I personally feel this limits sales as some buyers don’t like to ask and it can put the seller under pressure if they haven’t prepared prices in their head.
- Price easily – My lowest price is 50p, cheaper items I will do say 4 for £1 to save messing about with small change.
- Price realistically – it can be tricky getting prices right as people will haggle but you don’t want to price too high that people won’t even bother. Price to sell at an amount you and buyers will be happy with (I have posted some standard selling prices for popular items below).
- You might be better off selling higher value items on Ebay or Facebook For Sale groups.
- Group items of the same price in a tray or box and write on the box “50p each” but make sure each item is still viewable
- Don’t price each item with a sticky label or write on it directly because a) you might want to lower it later and b) it looks horrible and puts buyers off, especially with new items. Instead, use fluorescent star cards or small post-it notes with the price marked on it, then you can easily change if need be.
HOW TO DISPLAY YOUR ITEMS AT A CAR BOOT SALE
- Clothes sell better on a clothes rail. Write the price and size on the coat hanger.
- Group similar items together.
- Only display the packaging box of high value gadgets or games. Keep the contents in the car so they are not stolen.
- Again display one shoe if they are of value to prevent theft.
- Make sure sizes are clearly visible on bedding, rugs, etc..
- Some people cover the tables with tablecloths and make it all look nice. This is great but do price everything if you do this or people might think you look like a dealer and that you’ll be expensive.
- Some sellers put everything into boxes on the floor and let you rummage. Lots of people won’t be bothered to look unless you can clearly see what’s in the boxes.
- I try to find that balance and put items in shallow boxes on top of the table. That way I can group and price items. It’s also very easy to set up as you can take the boxes straight out of the car and onto the table. Then remove the boxes as more items sell.
ON THE DAY OF THE CAR BOOT SALE
- “Dealers” will be in your boot as soon as you arrive. Be firm and tell them to come back when you are set up.
- Don’t be afraid to say that you don’t have change for someone who tries to give you a £20 for a 50p item.
- Lots of people will haggle. It can be fun to negotiate a price but be firm if you don’t want to sell at their price and tell them to put it back if they are not interested.
- Watch out for thieves and keep your car locked.
- Bags – now that supermarkets no longer give free bags it’s not expected to give them out at car boots although I do tend to take some small bags for little items, i.e. if someone buys a bundle of toiletries.
- Pack up when you’re ready. Some sellers leave very early and others stay to the bitter end as you can make quite a few last minute sales. Be sure to take all your rubbish home with you too.
Below are some prices of popular items that people sell at car boot sales. I have given a range between standard selling price and achievable for items that are in very good condition. Bear in mind this is for regular items in the South of England – designer clothing, cult CDs/DVDs/books/vinyl etc will fetch more.
I take the attitude that I don’t need it and don’t want to go back home with it so it’s better to sell for something. But at the same time, I would rather give it away than sell for pennies.
Kid’s books 10p-£1
Adult paperbacks 10p-50p
Adult hardbacks 50p-£1
Dvd films 50p-£1
Jeans and trousers £1-£2
Everyday ornaments 50p-£2
Fashion jewellery £1
Duvet covers £2-3
Large Mirrors £5-10
Large modern pictures and canvases £3-6
New/almost new toiletries £1
Generally, gold/silver jewellery, watches, perfumes, designer clothing, gadgets, vinyl records and household items all sell quickly at a car boot sale. All new items sell well for between 25%-33% rrp. Remember just because it’s old doesn’t mean it’s vintage and will sell for lots of money.
Most of all enjoy watching your unwanted items turn into cash. Most people are really nice and easy to deal with.
If you just like the idea of things being reused rather than thrown away you might like to read these posts:
Do you like to buy or sell at car boot sales or do you use Facebook Marketplace or Ebay instead?
Let me know of your car boot successes and disasters.