How Upping Your Car Boot Game Could Fund Your Next Holiday

by Lauren Sharkey
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With the rise of the places like eBay and Gumtree, it would be easy to think that car boot sales are a thing of the past. But, in fact, it's our dependence on all things online that makes an IRL bargain hunt so appealing. Naturally, the first question on people's lips is, "why haven't I realised this before?" swiftly followed by "so how do I make money from car boot sales?"

Allow me to fill you in. When it comes to selling secondhand items, eBay may seem like a better option, but take into account fees and countless trips to the post office and you're in for a bout of hard work. Car boot sales, on the other hand, are great for everything. Along with the usual vintage stock, you can try selling stuff that's either so unique you don't quite know what to do with it or so weird that you have no idea why you bought it in the first place.

Recent statistics show that Brits spend £1.5 billion at car boot sales every year, making the transition from seller to buyer a sensible choice. While it's easy to get caught up in the idea of making a fortune, know that you probably won't walk away from a car boot sale as a millionaire. However, you could end up with a nice bit of pocket money that'll help pay for the holiday you're dreaming of this summer. A typical day at a car boot sale can leave sellers with around £80 in profit although some people can end up earning hundreds.

If you're a person who hoards junk like there's no tomorrow, Marie Kondo-ing your life is the only way forward. Here's a few expert tips on how to walk away with your pockets full of cash.

Do Your Research

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Car boot sales are a deadly foe for those who don't do a little Googling beforehand. First, you need to find your location. Stick to local areas so you don't have to travel far. If you already know of some, great. If not, you can sign up to this handy calendar for the grand total of £3. It tells you when and where tons of car boot sales are happening in the UK.

Once you know where you'd like to mark your territory, visit the car boot sale as a simple yet sneaky buyer. Pay attention to what people are selling and for how much, which stalls draw your eye the most and why, and where the best places to set up are.

Note that the items that sell best at car boot sales are often clothing and accessories, CDs, books (paperback over hardback), DVDs, gardening equipment, furniture, ornaments, and even small electrical items that work. Obviously. Gadget insurance provider Protect Your Bubble recently reported that the average UK household has over £200 worth of unused gadgets so it's worth hunting around. But make sure everything is in decent condition before attempting to sell it. You can even try cleaning or ironing each item to make it look extra pretty.

Set Your Prices

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The next thing you need to look into is pricing. If you have anything that you think is worth a considerable sum of money, do not, I repeat do not, take it to a car boot sale. You don't want to end up like the seller who The Sun reported sold a £60,000 Qing dynasty vase for a tenner.

Everything else will need to be priced up according to car boot sale rules, not online selling rules. Online, you can sometimes get away with pricing your items a little higher than they should be. But car boot sale devotees will tear you apart at the first sniff of a ripoff. Think everything under £5 and you're good to go.

OK, so there are a few more specific "rules" when it comes to setting your prices. Yes, you want everything to be cheap but you don't want people to leave you with nothing. Decide the lowest amount you'll accept for each item and stick to it.

Then, once you've sorted your prices out in your head (or messily written them down), you can decide whether to label your items with their prices or just keep it to yourself. Labelling things like clothes can be helpful if you're throwing a load of items into a box (everything £1 etc.) but if it's more unique pieces you're selling, withholding prices can spark conversations and encourage a sale.

It's All About Presentation

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Before even setting foot in a car boot sale, you need to think about the layout of your stall. Set off early so that you can bag the best spot. This will often mean being up at 5 a.m. but it's worth it if you can set up near the entrance or exit or near somewhere selling food. The more people there are walking past your car, the better.

Make sure you bring collapsible tables and sturdy rails with you. This will stop people having to sit on the floor to rummage through a cardboard box. If you're selling clothes, it might be wise to invest in a cheap and relatively large mirror so that people can see how they look in your finest items. Remember to check the weather before you go as any sign of rain will require some sort of covering to protect your goods.

The actual presentation of your stall isn't that difficult. Lay out your most eye-catching items where people can see them. Try not to make things too messy so that people don't have to spend half an hour looking for something. The only time this advice doesn't apply is when you're trying to shift a tonne of clothes. Sometimes, putting it in a basket with a sign encouraging people to rifle through can be a lot of fun.

Talking of signs, you don't strictly need them. But if you're looking to promote an offer such as buy one, get one free, they can be useful. Alternatively, a makeshift treasure trove sign can work for any knick-knacks.

Be Friendly On The Day

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If there's one thing that working in retail has taught me, it's that it can be easy to forget your manners when dealing with the general public. People can be abrupt. They can be rude. But they won't give you their money if you don't exhibit some form of politeness.

During a car boot sale, almost every person you encounter will try to haggle with you. If you're not willing to entertain them, you stand the chance of losing sales. It's OK to say no but at least be prepared to lower your prices on the day. You also need to remember that not everyone will have the correct change. Car boot sale attendees will often carry notes so it's up to you to ensure you have at least £20 in various coins.

There are a number of other things you can do to make people's days that little bit easier. Having a stash of plastic bags in your car can help people who buy awkwardly-shaped items. And don't forget to bring either paper or bubble wrap to protect any breakables.

If someone asks you a question about something you're selling, engage them in conversation. Find out what their interests are and see if there's anything you can sell alongside what they're already perusing. Do they like vinyls? Try offering your vintage record player too. Have they told you they're into a specific genre of film? Guide them towards your wide selection of books in the same area. You get the idea.

Oh, and remember that you don't have to do it alone. Car boot sales can often be like letting animals out of the zoo. Full of hordes of people all clamouring for a bargain, it can be overwhelming as a solo seller. So why not invite a friend to help you navigate the environment.

Read and remember these tips to supplement your income with a car boot sale here and there. In no time, you'll be a pro seller ready to pass your wisdom onto those less fortunate souls.