Best Places to Buy & Sell Second Hand Items & Unwanted Gifts

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
Swap meets
Flea markets
Yard sales
Garage sales
Jumble sales
Charity shops and thrift stores
Farmer’s markets
Facebook Marketplace
eBay
Schpock
Gumtree
Etsy

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.

photo of a girl with long ginger hair looking at a row of clothes with old pictures and bags in the background, in a charity shop or thrift store
photo by Burst

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.

Pros:
You can try to sell everything in one go.
It’s a nice way to meet people.
You reach a lot of sellers in one go.

Cons:
You may need to sell your items much cheaper than you hoped.
It’s a long day that may involve a very early start.
You might get your items stolen.

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.

photo taken from above a farmers market or swap meet showing the red and blue roofs of all the stalls with 100s of people walking around them browsing new and second hand items
photo by Nicole Law

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.

Pros:
You can sell all your items in one place.
You do not need to leave home.

Cons:
You will need to do a lot of advertising.
You may not get as many buyers viewing your items as other options.

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.

Pros:
These are generally more for food and new arts and crafts. You may only be able to sell vintage or collectible second hand items.
People will expect to pay more than a car boot sale.
The organisers do the advertising.

Cons:
Your pitch may be higher.

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.

Pros:
These are generally very cheap to buy from.
Your unwanted items will find a good home if you donate.

Cons:
You cannot sell your own second-hand items.

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.

Pros:
You will be supporting a charity.
These are generally cheap to buy from.
There is a big selection of charity shops on every high street.
Your donations will go to a good home.

Cons:
You cannot sell your own second-hand items.
Depending on your area, they tend to be more expensive than car boot sales or jumble sales.

photo of a man's torso sitting at a desc about to type into a mobile phone to illustrate online selling on Marketplace, Ebay and Etsy

Online Selling

Of course, many people prefer to sell online when they only have a few items for sale, or maybe something more valuable.

Facebook Marketplace

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.

Pros:
This is free to advertise.
It is quick and easy to advertise.
You reach a wide audience.
The payment is immediate.
You can arrange a convenient time for collection.
There is the option to post if the buyer lives further afield, with them paying postage costs.

Cons:
You do get a lot of timewasters who fail to collect.
People come to your house

eBay

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.

Pros:
You can list as Buy It Now, Best Offer or Auction.
You can take advantage of free listing days.
eBay/PayPal deal with the transactions
You can reach a worldwide audience.

Cons:
Selling fees can mount up with listing, selling and payment fees.
There can sometimes be disputes raised by buyers, which aren’t necessarily your fault.

There are similar sites such as Schpock and Gumtree which are free to use.

Etsy

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.

Pros:
You can reach a wide audience.
You can set up a shop.
It is good for craft and vintage items.

Cons:
You have listing and selling fees.


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?

If you enjoyed this post you may also like to read more from my money-saving or eco-friendly sections including:

How to Reuse, Redistribute and Recycle Your Rubbish
* How to Survive a Car Boot Sale

11 thoughts on “Best Places to Buy & Sell Second Hand Items & Unwanted Gifts

  1. I wish we had car boot sales in the US. Maybe Caz and I should switch places, lol. Sounds like fun to me and living in apartments, it would be a great replacement to the yard/garage sales so popular in the US, which just isn’t feasible. We’ve been trying to get down to fitting in a 1 bdrm and I’ve been donating everything, even stuff that’s quite valuable. I hate dealing with online postings that much! lol. I’d much prefer to do it in person.

    Liked by 1 person

  2. This is an amazing resource, Jo! I love that you’ve included UK & USA, and it’s interesting to see the comparison. Even though I live in the UK, I feel like I was made for the US. Maybe it was all the American TV and books I grew up with. I love the idea of a yard sale! xx

    Liked by 1 person

  3. I use eBay occasionally to buy and sell – mostly buy now. I’ve generally had good experiences with it, but I’ve had one or two people who have been particularly unpleasant – thankfully quite rare though. As I’m usually in the market for older things (when did antique or old or second hand become vintage??) sellers tend to slap a premium on, which I don’t think is always justified. However, I guess there’s a market if people are prepared to pay for it! Really useful guide. I keep thinking about doing a boot fair one day, but does seem like an awful lot of hard work!

    Liked by 2 people

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