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Ten tips for successful selling at car boot sales

23 October 2014 ( 01 May 2019 )

A car boot sale is a great way to earn extra money while decluttering your house. Here are ten tips to help you sell your stuff successfully.

Vintage tea set at car boot sale
Make money from the clutter lurking in your attic

1. Research

Keep an eye out for flyers and posters dotted around your neighbourhood advertising upcoming boot fairs in your area, or visit Car Boot Junction to choose a location.

First, go as an observer and see where the best sites are located; often these are close to the entrance or food stalls.

And have a look on eBay the night before to get an idea of approximately how much the things you're selling are worth second hand.

Decide how low you're willing to go before you have to refuse to part with an item, so you aren't pressured into selling something for much less than you'd like to.

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2. Pack the night before

Put your items in boxes, so you can quickly load your car in the morning. Take a paste table and old sheets or tablecloths to present your goods - a waterproof groundsheet is a good ideas as you can put it in front of your table to present larger items. Make sure you have plenty of loose change and plastic bags for people to carry their newly purchased items away.

If you have a lightweight gazebo for the garden, you might want to pop it in the car if the weather looks dodgy; not only will it keep your possessions dry, it will lure over people who also want to avoid getting wet.

Consider taking a Thermos of tea and a breakfast sandwich. If your stall is busy, you might not have time to grab anything; plus you don't want to fritter your hard-earned cash on lukewarm tea and a bacon bap from a burger van if you can avoid it.

3. Get there early

A successful boot fair involves a very early start, sometimes as early as 5am, to ensure you arrive before the seller's opening time.

You ideally want to be one of the first in the queue in order to choose your high-traffic site; if it's wet weather first check that the boot fair is still running (most will have a page on Facebook or a website). It's been raining but the boot fair is on, look for the driest areas.

And bear in mind that as with seasonal sales, serious buyers arrive early.

4. Go with a friend

An extra pair of hands can be useful if you experience a sudden rush of visitors to your stall, or when you need a break, and to keep an eye on your goods if you're busy with an interested customer.

And if you happen to excel at something other than quick, in-your-head arithmetic, find a friend who can do adding up and taking away without breaking a sweat, so you don't have to fumble with a calculator. 

Having someone to pass the time with will prevent you looking bored and unapproachable; though be careful not to get so engrossed in your conversation that you miss a prospective customer's attempt to make eye contact.

5. Consider when to use price labels

Not pricing everything up can save time, and people may pay more than you expect for an item, especially if it's something particularly collectible or nostalgic. 

If anything has an interesting backstory, consider leaving a price off, as you might be more likely to make the sale if you build up a rapport with the buyer. 

However, if you organise a bargain bin or rail with a label declaring 'Everything 50p', that could attract people of a shyer nature, who would rather not chat as they browse.  

Where else can you sell unwanted possessions?

6. Bargains attract

Eye-catching signs often work; BOGOF (Buy One, Get One Free) or you might like to try a couple of more creative ones like 'Treasure Trove' for some of your older items (jewellery, ornaments, pictures, etc.)

7. Prepare answers to objections that buyers may have

For example:

'Does the torch work?' Have batteries with you.

'It's too expensive.' Know the recommended retail price and respond with 'Brand new, this would cost eight times the price'.

'It's awkward to carry.' Have bags at hand.

'How does this work?' Include instruction booklets.

8. Set your stall out like a retailer would

During summer, organise plants, garden shears, gnomes and parasols in a prominent position. 

Place all-year round items such as books in a 'Great Reads' box. 

If you're selling clothes, use a clothes rail, perhaps organised in sizes, or divided into men's, women's and children's clothes. 

Periodically view your stall from the front as a customer would - what would appeal to YOU if you were passing by? 

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9. Charm sells

Be polite and upbeat, and show interest in the customer; this has a huge effect on sales. 

If someone is interested in the camera, ask them questions, for example; what type of photos will they be taking? Do they print their own photos? 

They may also be interested in filters and a colour printer, especially if you show them how they work. 

Be confident in your approach: if you're unhappy with an offer, politely say no and tell them why you feel it's worth the price you are asking, but be prepared to strike a bargain.

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10. The final clearance

If you want to go home with an empty boot, use your vocal chords to good effect and let customers know of some great tactical combinations, for example; tennis racquet and 10 balls were £15, now £9 for the lot. 

Above all, enjoy the fun of being a seller.

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The opinions expressed are those of the author and are not held by Saga unless specifically stated. The material is for general information only and does not constitute investment, tax, legal, medical or other form of advice. You should not rely on this information to make (or refrain from making) any decisions. Always obtain independent, professional advice for your own particular situation.