Doing Car Boot Sales

Reduce, reuse and recycle. For those seeking to be more self-sufficient and trying to live by this mantra, car boot sales can provide genuine bargains. From almost new household goods to baby clothes, rare vinyl records to garden plants, the buyer who’s willing to search can often find just what he’s looking for at a good price at a car boot sale.

And, for many, running a regular car boot sale has proven to be an enjoyable and money-raising venture. We’re not talking millions here but a little extra is always handy when the bills come in. Some like to specialise, buying up and reselling particular items like old china or books, while others find an outlet for their green-fingered produce.

But whether you’re planning a stall or going along to browse for bargains, there are some things you need to know. Jared is a regular car booter, both buying and selling. We asked him for some advice on how to get the best out of the car boot sale experience.

Running a Stall at a Car Boot Sale

  • Try and persuade a friend to help you. Not only will they be useful in the setting and clearing up, they’ll be company during the quiet moments.
  • Make sure your items are clean and in full working order.
  • If you’re selling an item for somebody else agree a minimum selling price beforehand.
  • Some items won’t sell. If you visit a charity shop you’ll see things like the same vhs videos, small cheap toys and men’s pants there for weeks, so don’t have those on your stall.
  • You may get a better price for some items by selling them on Ebay or Gumtree or in the local paper.
  • Don’t bother going if it’s forecast to rain during the car boot sale at all.
  • Take a flask of tea and a float of small change. And find out where the nearest toilets are.

Setting Up

  • Get there early. In the summer this means 5.30 am for a morning car boot sale.
  • Find a good pitch. If you’re too far away from the entrance customers will lose interest before reaching you.
  • Dealers prey on sellers and will begin rummaging through your stuff even before you’ve finished laying it out. They’ll try to buy items cheaply from you so they can sell them for 3 times the price later on at their own stall.
  • Don’t overcrowd your stall or you’ll blind buyers with your clutter.
  • Choose a few attractive items to display at the front of your stall to catch people’s eye and draw them to your stall.
  • Group similar items together in your display.
  • Don’t label and price every item as this puts people off and stops you being flexible with your price.


  • Customers come in waves: dealers first, collectors second, browsers third, casual day trippers next, the impoverished last. Reflect this in your price, but don’t drop too quickly.
  • If someone is keen but doesn’t want to pay the price let him walk away. If he’s really keen he’ll be back or someone else will.
  • Don’t sell your most attractive or popular items at reduced prices too quickly.
  • Leave 20minutes before the end and beat the rush at the local rubbish dump.

Buying at a Car Boot Sale

  • Get there as early as you can.
  • Take your own bags.
  • Don’t buy from professional dealers as you could probably buy their trinkets cheaper somewhere else. If you visit the same car boot sale regularly, you’ll get to recognise the dealers who tend to have things in quantity – and charge more.
  • Work out a price you’re happy to pay for the item before you ask “how much is this?” And then don’t pay more!
  • If you fall in love with an item try your hardest to play it cool and not give your game away or you could end up paying over the odds.
  • Walk away (or pretend to) if you have to.
  • Don’t spend hours chatting to an old friend you’ve bumped into or you’ll miss out on those items you came for in the first place.
  • Don’t feel like you have to leave with something: it’s not compulsory to buy!