10 top tips for a successful car boot sale

Be a car boot sale king

Be a car boot sale king

Doing a car boot sale is a great way to clear out your cupboard, de-clutter your home and raise a bit of extra cash (for more clutter, in my case).

They require a bit of time and effort, and you’ll probably not make as much money as you would using eBay (my other favourite way to make cash). But they can be fun, and they get you out in the fresh air for a few hours.

After doing one last weekend, here are my top tips to make your car boot a success:

  1. Be prepared to travel. Sometimes the best and busiest car boot sales are a little further away, so do your research and factor in the cost of petrol to get there when considering which one to do. Compare distances, start times, and “seller” fees (some charge up to £10 per car), and work out which is the best for you. Read a few reviews online too. Sites like Carbootjuction.com and Carboot.com will become your friends.
  2. Be prepared to get up early. Car boot sales are not for those who enjoy their weekend lie-ins. We were up at 5am, and in the entry queue (yes, people queue) by 6am. Hardcore car booters will be there and ready from the crack of dawn, so if you want a good pitch (not the other side of the field, far from the toilets/burger van), make sure you’re prepared to get up early (we found a few cups of tea helped).
  3. Be prepared to rope in some help. Taking a helper with you has a few obvious advantages. You can split the seller fee, take a toilet break without leaving your stall unattended, and also browse the other stalls (mind you don’t end up spending more than you make). Two pairs of eyes are also better than one when keeping a look out on your bric-a-brac, especially when attacked by locusts (see below).
  4. Be prepared for locusts.No, not the horrible flying insects. This is a breed of buyers that mum (my car boot and locust look-out helper) and I have nicknamed because of their mob mentality. They swarm in their masses, descending on your car and perusing through your goodies before you’ve even had chance to begin unpacking them.They can be really intimidating if you’re unprepared. If you’ve ever done a car boot, you’ll know what I mean. For anyone who hasn’t, don’t let the thought of these pests put you off doing one. Just be prepared. Keep your boot locked while unpacking each box, and watch out for thieves.
  5. Be prepared with change. There’s nothing worse than making a sale and then realising you haven’t got the right change, so have to take less for an item. Come prepared with some bags of pound coins and some notes, because it’s inevitable someone will want to pay for a 50p item with a £20 note.
  6. Be prepared with bags. Car boot buyers often aren’t prepared themselves, so come armed with carrier bags. And if you’re selling anything breakable, bubble wrap and tissue paper will also be handy.
  7. Be prepared to haggle. It’s not just buyers that need to be determined to haggle. If you think something you’re selling is worth a lot more than the buyer is willing to pay, stand your ground and don’t budge. If they want it that badly, they will be back, and will eventually cough up the full price.
  8. Be prepared for rain. We chose to do our car boot on a Sunday, which was forecast to be bright and dry. Unfortunately, Britain being Britain, with its unpredictable weather, we got rain, and a lot of it. We ended up using an umbrella we’d planned to sell, and spent £3 of our profit on clear plastic sheets that a much savvier seller had brought with them to cover our pasting tables.
  9. Be prepared to sell anything. What may be junk to you may be a gem to someone else. So even if you think no one will want to buy a rusty old saucepan, jigsaw with three pieces missing, teddy bear with half its stuffing pulled out, it’s always worth taking everything you’re willing to part with. Whatever you don’t sell can then just be saved for the next car boot, charity-shopped or taken to your nearest recycling centre.
  10. Be prepared not to sell anything. You win some, you lose some. Last time we did a car boot back in April, mum and I made £200 each. This time we weren’t so lucky, with mum managing to pull in £50 and me a meagre £5.90. Sad face.

Though not a car boot virgin (just), I am by no means a car boot veteran, so if anyone has any other top tips, please share them below or in the forum discussion, so hopefully next time I can make more than £5.90.