[updated February 2021]
More than two years ago, I wrote a post called How to Survive a Car Boot Sale. It has been one of my most-read posts. Just like anything else, car boot sales have evolved so I have broken that post down into car boot sale tips for sellers and car boot sale tips for buyers. I’ve also written about the new changes needed for car boot sales to be Covid compliant since the easing of the first lockdown restrictions on 1st June 2020.
Of course, you can still access my earlier post which has many of the frequently asked questions about car boot sales. Having been a buyer and a seller at car boots for decades, I have learned a thing or two along the way and wanted to pass it on.
Hopefully with the latest lot of lockdown restrictions looking likely to ease, we can look forward to a good car boot sale season this year. Read on to find my top tips for selling at a car boot sale.
Car Boot Sale Tips for Sellers
Selling at a car boot sale can be quite stressful if you’re not prepared. I usually sell at one or two a year after a big decluttering session.
Here are some of my top tips for selling at a car boot sale.
How to Run a Stall at a Car Boot – Research First
- 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.
- Check any selling restrictions. Most will not allow guns, knives, alcohol, or tobacco for legal reasons but some will not allow any food and beverage items. Car boot sales held in garden centres tend not to allow any plant sales.
- If the car boot allows food items, also check with the local council that you do not need a licence from them.
- 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 some clear plastic sheeting in case it rains.
- A clothes rail, long length mirror and a bit of carpet for buyers to stand on is useful if you are selling clothes.
Prepare to sell at 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 until last so they are the first items out of the car enabling you to set up first.
How to Make Money at a Car Boot Sale – Price to sell
- 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 4 for £1, for example, to save messing about with small change.
- Price realistically – it can be tricky getting prices right as people will haggle. 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.If you are selling on behalf of a charity, make sure you advertise that fact. People will be less likely to knock you down in price and may even give you their spare change.
How to Display Your Items For Sale at a Car Boot Sale
- Clothes sell better displayed 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.
- If you are selling valuable shoes, display only one 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 price everything if you do as 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.
How to Make Money on the Day of a 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 and leftover items home with you too.
Protect Yourself & Your Customers – Be Covid Secure
- Wear your own PPE.
- Take a hand sanitizer or pack of antiseptic wipes with you and use frequently.
- Take plenty of loose change in an open container in case you need to give people change (store this safely in site to avoid theft).
- Consider having a sign on your tables politely asking people not to handle goods unless they are intending to buy.
- If you are taking food and drink with you, prepare and store in a way that will involve minimal handling..
Best Things To Sell at a Car Boot Sale with Price Guide for 2020
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 prices 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 donate it to charity than sell for pennies.
Average Selling Prices at a Car Boot Sale
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.
Best Places to Sell or Donate Leftovers from Your Car Boot Sale
No matter how well you do at a car boot sale, you will still find that you have lots leftover. You might decide to try your luck at a different car boot sale or to try and sell your second hand items somewhere else, or even give them away. Here a few suggestions:
- Try to sell on local Facebook groups, eBay, Schpock, Gumtree, etc.
- Do another car boot in a different area or join up with a friend if you don’t have enough stuff for a stall on your own.
- Offer for free on a local Facebook group. Virtually all items can be gratefully rehomed.
- Donate to a charity shop, but ask first as most don’t want glasses, china, and videos. (Please do not leave on their doorstep when the shop is closed as items often get damaged and this will cost the charity money to dispose of.)
- Offer to schools and local community groups.
- Read my post below about other ways of how to reuse and redistribute your rubbish.
- Putting in a council rubbish tip should always be a last resort.
Most of all enjoy watching your unwanted items turn into cash. Most people are really nice and easy to deal with.
Do you like to buy or sell at car boot sales?
I hope you’ve found my tips for sellers useful.
Please tell me about your car boot successes and disasters.