My car boot sale buying and selling tactics

Car boot fairs are a fantastic source for buying almost all the stock that you might consider selling on Amazon or eBay.

Here are a few buying and selling tips to help you make the most out of your day…

My top buying tips…

1. When to arrive – Some car boot ‘experts’ suggest that you should visit a car boot sale both at opening time, to view the best items before they are snapped up, and then again at the end, to offer cash that sellers can’t refuse if they want to avoid taking everything home.

Both options are sound, but if you only have time for one visit, my preference would be to get there early, and pay the additional ‘trade fee’ for pre-opening early access if required.

2. Who to avoid – On arrival, study the stallholders, as it pays to be selective. If you see a row of scruffy looking men with weather-beaten faces accompanied by rather hard-faced women, standing in front of some battered white vans, then avoid!

They are likely to be regular traders and they will certainly know the value of what they are selling down to the last penny – so no bargains to be had there.

3. Who to seek out – Friendly ‘family sellers’ are often distinguished as a typical family group of mum, dad and a couple of small kids who have come along to lend a hand (yeah right!).

Also, the car might be a little nicer and cleaner than the rest of the pack. Targeting this type of seller does not mean you should be hell-bent on ripping them off. No, at all times play fair and ‘pay’ fair.

It’s just that the quality of the goods for sale is likely to be higher with family sellers. Also, unlike the traders who are happy to hang on to their unsold stock for their next car boot, the family seller really does want to clear as much as they can all on the same day.

Yes, they want a fair price (as they are probably saving up for some extra holiday cash) but the last thing they want to do is lug everything home again and pile it back up in their garage or loft.

Apart from the extra cash, they usually are trying to clear excess clutter to free up some space. So yes, they will be reasonable with their prices and be prepared to barter.

4. Barter, but know when to stop – People expect to haggle at a car boot, but don’t push it to the point of rudeness: there’s no need. Keep it light.

5. Plan to visit more than one fair in a day – There is never any doubt in my mind that the ‘right’ stock is out there. As long as I move quickly around the fair and then travel on to other fairs in the same area, I just know I will find all the stock that I need… it really is out there you know! As long as you don’t linger and dawdle!

If you find an item that you like but at a price that you don’t, then move on… there will always be another bargain around the next bend and I guess that’s what I like about car boot fairs and other similar events – you just never know what you are going to run into next.

My top selling tips…

1. Find a high-traffic fair – If you choose a fair that is poorly attended, then frankly you will be wasting your time. For it to be worth all the effort, you need to have a steady flow of visitors walking past your pitch for at least two full hours.

So if you are unsure, check out several car boots in advance to be confident of your choice.

2. Arrive early to bag a good pitch – Don’t allow yourself to be squeezed into too small a space by the marshal’s directing traffic, nor side-lined into a low footfall part of the site.

3. Pack the night before – In order to get an early start it’s always a good idea to sort out your items for sale and load your car the night before. It’s a mistake to leave it until the morning of the event: everything always takes far longer than you expect.

4. Bring a good supply of loose change and carrier bags – You can easily lose a sale by not having sufficient change or a bag to hand out… Don’t expect the buyers to come equipped; that’s your job.

5. Display three-dimensionally – Use your space wisely to optimise your earnings. Try to have a table in front of your car, with two small ‘returning tables’ at right-angles back to your car. This, in my experience, creates ‘traffic interrupt’ i.e. stops the steady flow of buyers past your stand, persuading people to linger awhile.

6. The ‘golden hour’ – The best haggling will usually take place during the very first hour of the car boot, when the trade dealers are out and about.

The fair organisers often charge ‘traders’ a higher entrance fee for the first hour, so take advantage of any interest shown early on, as this is the time when you are most likely to sell your best and most expensive items.

Traders have deeper pockets and have a better understanding of the real value of decent stock, compared to the general Joe Public who follow on, so don’t pass up a decent early offer in the hope that you will get offered more later in the day.

7. Don’t price-label your stock – I have always found it a mistake to price-label your stock (except food; mentioned last week).

If you have price stickers on all your items people are less likely to engage with you to strike a deal. Most likely they will think that is your final price, and will quietly walk on by.

Leaving your stock unpriced also allows you to mentally evaluate the customer standing in front of you on the spur of the moment, allowing price flexibility.

8. Bring food and drink – Coming prepared with some pre-made sandwiches and a drink saves spending your hard-earned cash with the food vendors on-site… unless it’s a bacon sandwich of course!

9. Bring a waterproof sheet – It is England, after all! A simple plastic sheet thrown over your table when showers appear will save your stock from ruin.

10. Please remember to check all items are fit and safe for sale!

Good luck if you are heading off to a car boot sale this weekend.

We’ll talk again next week.

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