They say that one man’s trash is another man’s treasure and after doing a car boot last weekend for the first time in year, I was reminded just how true this phrase is. I’m certainly no stranger to the phenomenon that is car boot sales. As a child my Dad would drag me along every month or so to help him scope out some cheap CDs and records, many of which we’d sell at a slightly higher price when doing our own sale a few weeks later.
Until last weekend however, it had been a good 10 years or so since I last helped out, and so when my Dad said that I could keep all the profits for myself this time, how could I refuse!
So we got up at 5am and queued (yes, people queue for these things) for about half an hour until we were finally allowed to drive onto the field at Burnage Rugby Club.
After 6 hours of hard work we finally came away with a whopping £180! You heard. £180 for 6 hours work. Even if we’d have split the profits between the two of us that’s still a huge £90 each, so who can argue with that?
If you’re thinking of doing a car boot yourself, here’s my guide to making it a success:
Scope out the scene before you pitch
My Dad, the expert carbooter that he is, always checks out a venue before doing his own car boot there. He warns that some organisers are very stingy when it comes to allowing you space, and they’ll force cars to park extremely close together, leaving you very little room.
“If you’ve got three decorating tables but you can barely open your car door because the next car is so close, this isn’t ideal” He says.
Being the first on the scene is ideal, because most of the people who visit you are likely to have much more money in their pockets than they will have by the time they reach the other side of the field. Also, the you don’t want to be setting up your stall when there are loads of people wandering around. This brings us to our next point…
Watch out for the seagulls
The first thing to do once you’ve parked up is obviously to start unloading your car. Sadly, you won’t always be able to do this in peace because there’ll always be a bunch of people keen to rummage through your belongings before you’ve even unpacked them and got yourself organised.
The most desirable things tend to get snapped up fast, and so these people are simply desperate to grab the best bargains before anyone else.
You may have witnessed a similar situation in your local supermarket in the evenings. A member of staff will be trying their hardest to load all the cheap items onto the reduced shelf only to be attacked by a mob of people fighting over the last tub of grapes. The only difference in this situation is that is happens at the end of the day.
Don’t hesitate to stand your ground and tell people to back off. You don’t have to be rude, but if people are being intimidating and getting all up in your grill, they need to be told.
Obviously this is completely up to you. If they’re offering you £15 for that Sex and the City boxset that you’re never going to watch again, you might decide to bite your tongue and make an early sale. Just warning you, some of them may leave your car looking like this 😉 :
Back when I was a kid, my Mum was always a big fan of pricing everything up the day before the car boot. She’d spend hours sticking prices on things and making big eye-catching signs to indicate where the big bargains are. This is a great way of minimising your workload on the day and limiting the amount of stress. There’s nothing worse than panic shouting a ridiculously low price for your childhood bike because someone has put you on the spot.
However, many sellers choose a price based on how much they think that they can get out of the person who is asking. This is a bit sneaky, and it doesn’t always work, but I won’t judge you if you decide to do it this way. Bear in mind that because car boots are getting somewhat ‘trendy’ now, there are likely to be plenty of people wandering around who want to find things to upcycle. While price is important for this savvy bargain hunters, they may pay a little bit more for that chest of drawers that you’re selling because they read a blog that said they can sand it down and paint it Duck Egg Blue.
Also, take plenty of change and plastic bags with you. People will appreciate you being versatile change wise and will be glad of a plastic bag if they’re buying lots of things from you.
Price things with haggling in mind
People at car boot sales love to haggle, and I estimate that about 80% of people who visited mine and my Dad’s stall last weekend offered us less than the price on the sticker. Bear this in mind when pricing things up, and if the item is good quality, make the price a little bit higher than what you really have in mind. Obviously if what you’re trying to flog is a little bit rubbish, then you may as well go in low, because few people will bother offer £1 on those tatty old flip flops that you’ve put a tenner on. But then again, I might be wrong…
Watch out for the fraudsters
Okay. The term fraudsters may be a little bit overdramatic, but you really do need to watch out for scams at these things. You may catch people doing something as little as switching the prices on items so that they can get something for cheaper, or you may catch someone full on stealing. The problem is that unless you catch someone outright, you can’t really accuse them, but it’s good to keep an eye out and rope as many people as possible into helping. I’ve never caught anyone full on stealing from us before, but there have been a few occasions where people have placed a dress which had £3 on it onto a £1 hanger. Naughty.
Don’t be a pushover
The stall next to ours consisted of mostly clothes, shoes and perfume, and the vast majority of it was good quality and very low in price. In fact, I’d argue that the girl who owned the stall was selling things too cheaply too early on, but I guess she just wanted to get rid of everything fast. She had a box of handbags and clutches that were priced at 50p each – a massive bargain considering many were from Topshop and River Island. But along came a very rude woman (armed with 3 empty suitcases which she was using to fill with her purchases) who offered the girl £1 for 3 clutches. Come on love. That’s ridiculous! They were more than cheap enough already. I could tell that the girl on the stall was annoyed, but she took the money anyway and then complained to her boyfriend as the other woman walked away with a big grin on her face. Stand your ground and say no! Someone will snap things up sooner or later.