Car boot sale wisdom: Everybody loves a good bargain, but everybody loves a good profit even better.
Car boot sale wisdom: Everybody loves a good bargain, but everybody loves a good profit even better.

If you’re moving to another home soon, a car boot sale can be a great way to simultaneously reduce the number of unwanted household items in your current house or apartment and cut down on your moving expenses by pocketing some extra cash.

Take advantage of our super practical car boot selling tips and ideas about:

  • How to prepare for a car boot sale;
  • How to organise a car boot sale, and
  • How to sell at a car boot sale

in order to turn your car boot sale into a successful and pleasurable experience.

How To Prepare For A Car Boot Sale

One thing is clear – you need good preparation in order to pull off a trouble-free and profitable car boot sale. In fact, your preparation stage is crucial to the overall success of your pre-relocation undertaking.

Do a complete inventory

One of the very first steps of every residential move is the completion of a detailed inventory of all household items and personal belongings in each and every room of your house or apartment. After all, you need to know exactly which items you will be taking with you to your new residence and which ones you will end up leaving behind. As far as the useless stuff goes – things you no longer need or want, the idea here is to set them aside for proper catalogueing and classification. These are the very same possessions you will attempt to sell at a car boot sale when you get them ready for the planned ownership transfer procedure.

So, get a notebook and a pen (or your spreadsheet application on your preferred mobile device) and get down to work.

Classify your stuff

Passionate watch collectors aside, even the most punctual people don't need more than a few watches, so off you go to the car boot sale!
Passionate watch collectors aside, even the most punctual people don’t need more than a few watches, so off you go to the car boot sale!

First and foremost, designate a specific spot in your house as a sorting station – the place where you will examine and classify all the odds and ends you will try to get rid of due to the forthcoming relocation. You should realize that paying for the transportation of any items you neither want nor need anymore will only be a complete waste of money and time. Money, as the final relocation price will be determined by the overall weight of your shipment, and time, as packing the items in question and then desperately trying to find adequate room to store them in your new home will require not mere minutes but hours and hours.

When you have found a suitable sorting workstation, take a complete tour of your residence going from room to room and hunting for the fuel which will set your car boot sale in motion. Pay special attention to your storage spaces (attic, basement, garage, tool shed, etc.) because they will probably contribute the most to your eventual car boot sale profit – all the things forgotten with time, no longer wanted by anyone in your family, totally or partially neglected, and grossly unappreciated. Yes, your move is giving you a great chance to streamline your household by reducing considerably the number of all the possessions in it.

Next, it’s time to classify your gathered “treasure” according to type: gifts and souvenirs, CDs and DVDs, old magazines, comic books or textbooks, clothes and shoes, your child’s old toys and playthings, musical instruments, sports equipment, various tools and power equipment, furniture pieces, kitchenware, kitchen appliances – the list goes on and on. Speaking of lists, you will have to compile another list that will undoubtedly serve you loyally during the sale. That special car boot sale list serves a very different purpose than the inventory list you created in the very beginning of your preparation stage. The inventory list was all about facilitating your decision-making process (what to take and what to leave behind) and its most important feature was the current condition of your no longer wanted or needed items, while the sale list includes all the possessions you’re taking to the local car boot sale in order to sell them, plus their corresponding prices.

Assign fair prices

Pricing your items right is not always as easy as it may seem. How do you place a price tag on something that is priceless?
Pricing your items right is not always as easy as it may seem. How do you place a price tag on something that is priceless?

Placing price stickers on your sale items is a great idea and you should do it nevertheless, but your special inventory list must also contain pricing information about each individual piece. Why, you may ask? Price stickers have the tendency to disappear mysteriously on the day of the sale and your mind will be preoccupied with so many things that keeping track of all your possessions and their corresponding prices will be nothing short of a Herculean task.

Next comes another hard task for you – to assign reasonable prices for each item that will go on sale very soon. This is a delicate process that will definitely determine how successful the overall car boot sale goes. One fourth of what you originally paid for an item is usually a good initial price for your used items but to really find the right balance between overpricing (coming back home with most of the things unsold) and underpricing (clearing your lot fast but at a loss), you will need to do some research first. Browse through big online shops such as eBay or Amazon and take a close look at how similar goods are priced so that you come at least close to a well-balanced price.

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How To Organise A Car Boot Sale

The preparation stage of your car boot sale is almost over – you have inventoried and sorted out all your household items and personal possessions, you have compiled two separate inventory sheets and you have priced the goods for a profitable sale. Our car boot sale tips continue with practical advice on how to organise your car boot sale the right way.

How to find a car boot sale

Are we forgetting something? Ah, yes – you will have to first find a local car boot sale in order to be able to attend it, right?

Probably the best car boot sale finder is offered by Car Boot Junction – one of the UK’s fastest growing car boot sales directory online. Their directory lists more than 1800 car boots all over the country, including essentials such as opening times, entry fees and other additional information (disabled access, refreshments, etc.).

Last minute preparations

Your car seems properly packed and more than ready for a successful car boot sale. Bravo!
Your car seems properly packed and more than ready for a successful car boot sale. Bravo!

Having already found a local car boot sale near you, these are all things you should do right before you load your merchandise into your car and drive off optimistically towards the nearest car boot sale.

Our car boot sale checklist goes like this:

  1. Contact the car boot sale operator the day before the event and make sure the sale hasn’t been cancelled for one reason or another.
  2. Also, ask the organiser what time the sale starts and then do your best to arrive there at least 1 full hour /an unwritten rule/ before the official starting time unless you are assured that no admission will be possible before a specific time. Remember that there is always a good deal of competition for the best pitches (spots) and you can be sure that the regular car boot sellers will already be there. MOST IMPORTANTLY, the regular buyers will be there at that time as well, and they are the ones you are after since they can usually afford to spend the most money.
  3. Unless the car boot sale you’re going to is an indoor event, which is unlikely as indoor car boot sales are still too few to mention, check the weather forecast for expected rain one day before the sale day. It won’t make any sense to show up at a sale if it is pouring down. If only slight drizzles are expected, don’t forget your umbrella and a few plastic coverings to protect your items. On the other hand, if they say the weather will be sunny, you may as well take some sunscreen with you for protection against sunburns.
  4. Don’t rely on the available refreshment stalls there but prepare in advance some sandwiches and bottled water to take with you, especially if you have children with you. If you plan to take your trusted canine friend with you as a guard and companion, remember to take food and water for them too, but only after you have made sure that pets will be allowed on site.
  5. What are you going to use to display the stuff you have for sale? The classic solution to this minor problem is to have a folding pasting table, but you can also choose to lay your bric-a-brac straight on the ground (not before placing a protective material of some sort, of course) or display them directly from the boot of your vehicle. If you choose to use a folding table like you should, load it last into your car to provide easy access to it as it will be the first thing you will get out of your vehicle when you arrive on the grounds of the car boot sale.
  6. Take one (foldable) chair if you’re going to the sale on your own or at least two if you’re taking your family or friends with you.
  7. Having a stack of paper carrier bags to hand over to your buyers is an excellent idea, as is to have extra packing and padding supplies with you.
  8. It’s very important that you take plenty of small change with you and possibly a reliable bumbag to keep the profit safe.
  9. If possible, arrange to have a companion with you – it’s always more fun to have a good company and besides, this way you will guarantee yourself proper toilet breaks and improved vigilance over the stall.
  10. And finally, a few final words about your items: make sure they are clean, presentable and still usable, then pack them safely with packing paper (newsprint is also a good choice but mind the nasty ink stains it can leave on your merchandise) or bubble wrap for the more fragile ones, place them into smaller cardboard boxes and load them safely into your vehicle. Oh, and don’t forget to check the pockets of the clothes you will be putting up for sale for money or other small items of value.

How To Sell At A Car Boot Sale

If old enough, your children can be invaluable helpers at your car boot stall.
If old enough, your children can be invaluable helpers at your car boot stall.

Our car boot sale advice will end with some practical pointers on the dos and don’ts of car boot sales.

  1. As advised above, arrive at the car boot sale at least one hour before the advertised opening time, or maybe even a bit earlier.
  2. Look for a good pitch – ideally a sunny spot closer to the refreshment stalls and away from any mud patches.
  3. When you park your car, you may want to wait at least 10-15 minutes before starting to unpack so that the over-eagerly boot divers have a chance to drift off.
  4. It’s imperative that you take out your pasting table and set it up BEFORE you begin to take out your sale items out of the vehicle. Setting up the table first will enable you to avoid overly quick questions or having to watch out vigilantly for sticky fingers from the very beginning. Understand that it’s you who will determine how your particular sale will unfold so try to follow your pre-set rules.
  5. Be careful to leave a considerable gap between your sale area and your neighbours’ so that potential buyers can walk comfortably around you.
  6. Think of various ways to make your stall more attractive – consider placing a tablecloth of a bright colour or tying a few cheerful balloons to start the sale on the right foot. Go in front of your stall and look at it from a buyer’s perspective – do you like what you see or is there room for improvement?
  7. If possible, arrange your items in themes so that potential buyers can easily spot what they are after. The goods that you think will be less saleable you can place on the ground over a protective sheet while keeping the “bestsellers” on the table.
  8. As mentioned above, the price stickers you had placed on each item will give you a break as you won’t have to answer price quieries every 10 seconds or so. On the other hand, you may prefer to have people asking for the respective prices, especially if you’re a person who likes to haggle.
  9. Speaking of haggling, be mentally ready for this car boot sale phenomenon whether you like it or not. Be polite and respectful to anyone who’s interested in what you have to offer. You can even do your best to charm potential buyers with a friendly conversation. However, you should still state the prices firmly and at the same time be flexible for business-like negotiations and possible discounts. Just remember your initial intention to do a car boot sale – was it to get rid of all unwanted and undesired items before you move house or was the idea to earn as much money as possible to help you cover some of the moving expenses?
  10. Hopefully, there will be a steady interest in your stall and the sale transactions will be constant throughout the duration of the car boot sale. It’s a fact that there’s an increasing number of afternoon car boot sales as well, so you, as a seller, can take advantage of that and attend two or even more car boot sales in one single day.
  11. And finally, do your best to have fun during the sale day. If you have a friend to look after your stall, take a walk around the boot sale and see if you can grab any bargains yourself!
Ready for some genuine car boot sale fun? You bet!
Ready for some genuine car boot sale fun? You bet!

We believe that the above car boot sale tips will enable you to go home with a sizable profit AND a smile on your face. With the upcoming move to another home in another city, you will certainly put the earned money to good use.

One last thing – have you been asking yourself, Do I need a license to sell at car boot sales?”. If you are, then the best piece of car boot sale advice is to contact the local authority and ask them, or alternatively check their website for relevant information simply because there is no consensus among local authorities on the legal status of car boot sales in the UK.

Good luck!

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1 Comment

  1. Another fantastic piece, well done!
    I have done a few car boot sales in my time, wish I’d read this first.
    S Connick

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