CAR boot sales can be a great place to pick up a bargain, or make some spare cash with items you no longer need.
Reporter Rosie Taylor took to her nearest car boot site to see how much she could make.
It’s 7am on a grey Sunday morning and I’m headed to my first car boot sale as a seller.
I’ve taken on the challenge of seeing if I can make money by clearing out my cupboards and selling things I no longer use or wear.
At first I am doubtful I’ll make enough to cover the £12 entry fee and the cost of petrol.
But I ended up taking home nearly £75 profit, thanks to some helpful tips from expert car booters. Here’s how I did it…
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Check the weather and research your location
They don’t always update their websites in time but many have Facebook groups or a contact number you can message for up-to-date info.
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There was a storm the night before I was due to attend, so I got up at 6.30am to check Facebook to see if my venue was open.
The first three I checked were closed as the ground was too wet so I ended up going to a different location – at Brighton Marina – which was held in a car park.
Don’t write off a quiet event
I worried the bad weather would put off buyers and some of my fellow sellers said it wasn’t as busy as normal.
But the grey, windy weather meant fewer sellers attended – which actually worked to my advantage.
Regular car boot seller Tim, who was running the stall next to me, explained: “When there are fewer sellers, there’s less competition so you get more buyers at each stall.
“That can work to a seller’s advantage.”
Get there early
Car boot expert Kate McCabe advises sellers to arrive as early as possible.
Due to the confusion over which sales were open, I didn’t arrive until 7.30am – an hour after the site opened.
I thought it was early enough but if I’d got there sooner I could have bagged a better spot.
But I still had sellers hanging round my car as soon as I opened the door.
Experienced sellers will pounce on anything they think is a deal as you’re setting up.
It felt a bit intimidating but meant I shifted lots of things straight away.
An England rugby shirt I’d bought in a second-hand sale for £1 went for £2 – a 100 per cent profit.
And I sold an old TV that had been sitting in our loft for years for £10 within moments of putting it out.
Your trash is another’s treasure
Kate says you should bring anything you can find to sell, as you never know what people will buy.
I tested her advice and, as an experiment, I brought along a metal packaging tin from an Easter egg – I was chuffed to sell it for £1.
Keep refreshing your stall
Car boot expert Becky Chorlton says buyers aren’t attracted to an empty-looking stall, so it’s important to keep rearranging it as things sell, to keep it looking appealing.
Reshuffling your stall can also draw attention to overlooked items.
I found moving an old children’s walker toy from one side of my stall to the other worked almost instantly.
It sold straight away for £2 – not bad as I had originally picked it up from Facebook for free.
Chat to your browsers – and don’t look at your phone
Kate recommends engaging with people looking at your stall and I really noticed that when I made the effort to talk to people, they were more likely to buy.
Similarly, whenever I had to check my phone, I realised people were more likely to lose interest and walk away.
Chatting to shoppers also helped me make additional sales.
For example, when someone who bought one of my old textbooks told me they were a student, I suggested they pick up some slippers to keep warm while revising – earning me an extra £2.
It’s also important to keep an eye on your stall and not get distracted.
One fellow seller said she had had jewellery stolen from her stall while she was on her phone.
Prepare to haggle
Some of the experienced car boot buyers who visited my stall were really aggressive in their haggling – one man who wanted to buy a broken clock wouldn’t leave me alone until he got it down to 10p from 50p.
Accept you’re unlikely to sell anything for a large amount – the biggest sales I made were the TV and some gold-plated jewellery for £10 and £5.
Professional car booters can make big profits but for an amateur like me, I also accepted that I was there to get rid of stuff I would otherwise have thrown away – so any money was better than nothing.
Know your prices (but don’t use price tags)
Becky recommends deciding in advance an ideal price and a minimum price you’re prepared to accept for all your items.
This way you can ensure you don’t get haggled too low on an item.
I wanted to sell on a dress I’d bought second-hand for £2.50 for a profit so I knew I needed to ask £5 for it – and got it.
But she also says it’s not worth labelling individual items with prices because this can put off some buyers and means you can’t be flexible with pricing.
As I didn’t label my items, this meant I could discount them easily towards the end of the day.
I sold off everything I didn’t want to take home for 50p each and managed to nearly clear out my stall.
Don’t dismiss those 50p sales
If you sell something for 50p it can feel like nothing but those sales soon add up – a good third of my total profits came from selling bits like unused toiletries, old books and clothes I would have otherwise taken to the charity shop for 50p each.
I found buyers were also more interested in items sold for less than £1 because it feels like almost nothing to them.
I also had a “50p box” for people to rummage in so they felt like they were finding a bargain and to generate a buzz of interest around my stall.
Bring plenty of change
Following Kate’s advice, I brought plenty of change, mainly as £1 and 50p coins.
This proved hugely useful in netting small value sales.
One woman wanted to buy a book for 50p but only had a £10 note – luckily, I had the change or she would have walked away from the sale.
Factor in costs – and bring your own snacks
Don’t forget to factor in the entry fee (typically £10 to £15) and petrol costs as these will come out of your profits.
Kate also recommends bringing your own snacks so you don’t waste £5 of your hard-earned cash at the burger van.
Bringing a bag of snack saved me money – and also meant I was fuelled to stand outside in a cold car park for several hours.
In the end I made £86 by selling stuff which I would otherwise have thrown away for nothing.
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Once I factored in the entry fee, that left me with a profit of £74.
Not bad for a morning’s work!
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