Car Boot Sale Advice & Tips

The Early Bird Catches The Worm - How To Grab The Bargains

Getting fed up with missing out on the bargains. Here's our handy guide to buying for profit.

1) Set your alarm! Everyone's a wannabe Del Boy these days and you have to get up early if you want to compete. Ring the car boot operators of the boot sales you plan on visiting and find out whether the entry time is strict or if you can get in early. Some will charge a little extra for early birds wishing to enter before the official start time.

2) Be a hunter, not a scavenger! When you arrive go to where the newest boot sellers are arriving and lie in wait. If a few rows have already been established ignore them as the best pickings will likely have gone and you can come back for the scraps later. Stick with the new sellers until the intake stops and then work your way back.

3) Be a specialist. Choose a few items, or types of item, that interest you. This is important because you need to know everything about them, what to look for, what they are worth, what's easy to sell, what's hard to sell, typical types of damage or wear and tear, how to restore and so on. If you aren't genuinely interested you won't want to learn; and if you don't learn you won't recognise that gem when you spot it. By specialising you dramatically reduce your competition for the same items.

4) Don't be shy. Talk to people. Talk to the sellers. Talk to other buyers (especially the hunters). Talk to the boot sale operators. Work into the conversation the sort of things you are interested in. If you strike up a good relationship with regular sellers who may come across your items they may keep them back for you. Buyers may give you tips and point things out and you may get the opportunity to trade with them. And as for the operators... well it's always a good idea to have them onside. You never know, they might let you in earlier! It doesn't do any harm either to make sure the refreshments van knows your regular order so you don't waste time queuing.

5) Be prepared to haggle. Don't be embarrassed about making an offer for something you are interested in. Be polite, do it with a smile and make sure you thank them if they accept your offer. If they don't, find out what they would accept and go from there. It's expected at car boot sales and don't let anyone tell you otherwise. You will always come across one or two who get the hump and/or say things like "No it's worth at least that". Just smile, and wish them luck selling it and walk away. If they are still there at the end of the day and still have the item you are interested in, ask them again!

6) Always carry change. Don't lose the opportunity of buying a bargain because you only have £20 notes and the seller only has £5 worth of change. Go out with a variety of notes and plenty of change. You can always change the bigger notes with the larger traders and refreshment stalls if you need to.

7) Bring some packaging. Regular sellers will always have some carrier bags and newspaper for fragile items, but you can't rely on it. So have a few carrier bags in your pockets and a box and suitable wrapping, if appropriate (e.g. newspaper or bubble wrap) in the car.

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