Following on from my posts about car boot sales, this post will give you more ideas of the best ways to buy and sell second-hand items and unwanted gifts. I also list the pros and cons for selling at each.
I will include how the second-hand market differs in the UK and USA – I found out that most of my American readers had never heard of a car boot sale or jumble sale, whereas my English readers didn’t know what a swap meet or thrift store was.
This post includes:
Car boot sales
Charity shops and thrift stores
Best Places of Where to Buy & Sell Second Hand Goods and Unwanted Gifts
In the UK we have a variety of options of where to buy and sell second-hand goods.
Let’s look at the difference between car boot sales, swap meets, jumble sales, and farmers markets, and then go on to discuss the pros and cons of buying and selling in the UK.
What is a Car Boot Sale?
A car boot sale is usually outdoors held in a field or car park. Some year-round sales might be in purpose-built locations or multistory car parks.
People load up their cars with all their unwanted items, pay a set fee to go in, then set up a stall to sell their goods. Goods are mostly second hand or new unwanted gifts and clothes.
You also get traders selling new items that would typically be sold in a shop or on a market stall. At the bigger car boot sales, you will often get companies arriving in lorries after doing a house clearance. Payment exchanges are always in cash.
Sellers can pay anything from £6 for a car to £40 for a lorry for their pitch. Buyers usually pay from 20p per person to £1.50 to browse, increasing to as much as £10 if you want to go in before it officially opens! This normally applies to dealers who are hoping to find that illusive ming vase for 50p.
Most car boot sales are held on a Sunday morning but do occur on Saturdays, bank holidays, and some in the week too. The nearest thing in the USA is a swap meet.
What is a Swap Meet or Flea Market?
A swap meet or flea market in the USA is a cross between a car boot sale and a market that sells new and used goods. They can often be themed, like an autojumble or record fair. Others may be similar to a flea market, selling antiques, vintage clothes and furniture.
Again, payments are made in cash although some traders now have card payment readers. Cashpoints are sometimes on-site, unlike car boot sales where the location is generally shared with a school, garden centre, or council car park.
Pros and cons are similar to a car boot sale.
What is a Yard Sale or Garage Sale?
Yard and garage sales are commonplace in the USA, but not so much in the UK. You basically set up your stall in your yard, front garden, or garage. Often whole streets will take part in these once a year, attracting more buyers.
What is a Farmer’s Market?
A farmers’ market was originally exactly what it says, a place for farmers to sell their fruit, vegetables, meat, and cheeses to the general public without the need for a permanent shop. As these have become more popular, they now also host local people selling their arts and crafts and are a great way to support the local community. They take place all over the world.
What is a Jumble Sale?
Jumble sales are not so commonplace anymore. Back in the 1970s and 1980s community groups, charities and schools would often hold a jumble sale to raise necessary funds. These were usually held on a Saturday morning. (Back then Sunday was well and truly a day of rest before 24/7 opening was in place.)
People would donate their unwanted items, especially clothes, books, games, and china to the charity a week or so in advance. It would then all be sold by volunteers in a hall, with buyers often paying a 10p entrance fee to browse.
What is a Charity Shop or Thrift Store?
A charity shop and thrift store are the same thing depending on whether you are in the UK or the US.
Both refer to shops that sell donated items, mostly second hand clothes, but also new unwanted gifts and general bric-a-brac. They usually support local and national health charities and disadvantaged groups.
Of course, many people prefer to sell online when they only have a few items for sale, or maybe something more valuable.
has become popular over the last few years. Originally, you could sell on local “for sale” groups within Facebook. eg you’d join a group called “Buying and Selling in Guildford”. You post a photo, selling price and location, and buyers come to your house, pay in cash and collect the item.
More recently, Facebook has launched Marketplace. You can still post to your local selling groups, but you have the option to add it to Marketplace, which reaches more people, not just those in the group.
This is a free service and reduces the need for postage and associated costs, although you do get a lot of timewasters who fail to collect.
eBay is probably the most well known online selling platform. Sellers list their item with a description, price, and photographs. Sometimes you have to pay to list but often you just pay a commission on the final selling price. You can sell by auction or at a fixed price, and allow the best price offers.
There are similar sites such as Schpock and Gumtree which are free to use.
Etsy is often used more by crafters, small businesses, bands and those who are going to have regular items for sale. Like eBay, this is a paid for service.
I’d love to know where you choose to buy and sell your second-hand items and unwanted gifts.
Which option do you find the best?
Have your buying and selling experiences been positive?
Or maybe you just prefer to donate to a charity shop?