Car Boot Sales: Turn your Trash into Cash

Not only a fun day out for the whole family, car boot selling is a great opportunity to sell all your unwanted items. The fantastic thing about car boot sales is that you can sell pretty much anything you like. It's the perfect way to grab everything you no longer use or want and turn it into cash.

The credit crunch has meant that we all need to save money wherever we can and this means that car boot sales are now more popular than ever. Now is the perfect time to take advantage of this boost and get down to a car boot sale to make some extra cash with your trash!

Our step-by-step guide

Step one: Find those items

Start raiding all those cupboards, drawers and boxes that haven't seen the light of day for a while. Check the attic and kids rooms to see what you can sell. Get everyone involved in finding items, and if you don't have many items consider sharing a pitch with a neighbour or friend (but agree to either split the profits or only take money for your own items).

Step two: Find a place to sell

Use a search site like Carbootjunction or Your Booty to find your nearest car boot sale or check the local papers. Once you've organised a place to sell make sure you arrive extra early to get the best pitch. It's a good idea to phone ahead and get some advice from the organiser.

Step three: Do your homework

Visit your local car boot sales to see how other people sell their goods and what sells well. For bigger items you're planning to sell look on eBay and Amazon to see how much they cost there. This will give you get a rough price guide for yourself. If you think an item may be a collectable do look on these sites to see if your item matches any of their collectables.

Step four: Be prepared

Bring along a table - a decorating table is perfect. If you don't have one, or need more than one, see if you can borrow one from a friend. Also, remember to take lots of loose change and refreshments. You'll need plenty of both!

Take lots of carrier bags and a few small boxes for buyers to take their goods home in. They may be put off by a larger item that they have to carry in their hands.

Bring a plastic sheet to cover your table if it starts to rain.

Step five: Keep the pricing really simple

Perhaps choose three amounts and label the smaller items the night before. For example you'll have things that cost 50p, things that cost £1 and things that cost £5. It keeps it easy and straightforward for both buyers and yourself when trying to remember prices. You may want to leave bigger items without labels and see how much you can get for them.

Remember that people love to haggle. Be prepared to either stick to your guns if you know the item is worth more, or be flexible if it's towards the end of the day and you just need to get rid of it.

Dealers may make you an offer early in the day BUT only do this if you are happy with the price they offer. Tell them to come back later - if they are serious they won't mind doing this.

Consider copying some supermarket tricks towards the end of the day to get rid of the last items. Try buy-one-get-one-free offers, or dropping the price of everything to one pound. It should bring in the last few customers still searching for bargains. Be prepared for major haggling by the end of the day and remember that 20p for an item you no longer need or want is better than leaving it to clutter up your house!

Step six: Presentation

Place your most eye-catching and attractive items in front. Take the time to make things look as appealing as possible and try to put items in some kind of order or theme i.e. kitchen items, music, toys, decorative pieces.

Use a clean, colourful cloth on the table to attract the buyers' attention.

Items that are less likely to sell can be put into a box at a set price per item - for example 50p per item. People like a good rummage and if you put toys low down where kids can see them they may be more likely to sell.

If you're selling clothes try to bring along a mirror with you. People will be much more inclined to bring something they can try on.

Step seven: Get some staff

Rope in your children, husband or friend to help. An extra pair of hands is indispensable and makes the day much more enjoyable, plus it'll mean that you can take toilet breaks!

Hot tips for car boot success

Best sellers

Perfume, smellies, plants, childrens toys and kids clothes always sell well so take as many of these items as you can. Another great tip is to bring along some homemade breads, cakes and biscuits which sell brilliantly at car boot sales and don't take much effort or money to make. They will also attract buyers to look at your other items and make you some extra money so it's well worth the effort of a spot of baking the night before.

Safety first

Keep expensive items near you at all times. Car boot sales can be magnets for thieves so be careful and always lock your boot after you've unloaded your items.

When you first arrive be aware of people trying to view the items before you've taken everything out of the car. This is a prime time for quick hands grabbing things without you noticing. Be firm and explain that you're not ready to sell yet as you're still setting up. This is where a friend or family member comes in really handy. One of you can unload the car box by box, and the other can stay at the pitch and set up the items.

Know the law

In brief, as a one-off, car boot sales are fine and do not need to be declared as income. However, if it becomes regular, or you start selling items that aren't your own personal property it's very likely that in legal terms, you would be considered a trader.


Here is my guide to practical car boot sale buying and selling. Below I give useful tips on buying and selling.... plus.... what's hot to offer, and what's not!
Car boot sales (garage sales) can be small affairs, such as a one-off school fund raiser or massive, carefully managed regular events. Charity car boot sales are fun, friendly and less commercialised but at large car boot sales you'll find three types of seller - caterers, market traders (selling mainly new items) and private sellers (folks who have had a 'clear out' and are selling their unwanted clutter).
It's the latter that car boot enthusiasts often find most exciting and for whom the following tips are intended.
AS A BUYER, DO..... a local paper to find out when and where you nearest car boot sale is, check on line or simply ask around prepared to get there VERY early if you want to find the bargains
...take plenty of small change and small notes with you, but leave your credit cards and other valuables behind
...keep the notes safe and your small change somewhere accessible
...take lots of carrying bags, a rucksack or a trolley if you have one
...dress very warmly in winter
...tie a carrier bag on your car aerial so that you can find it easily later (hoping that not everyone has done the same of course!)
...take a few business cards if you have them, you never know when they might be useful
...put your car keys in a very safe place (I once lost mine around a car boot sale in a field - and it was nightmare!)
...leave your dog and / or small children at home especially in hot weather if you possibly can.. If you really have to take the kids, give them a small amount of cash as spending money and tell them once it's gone, it's gone.. (I used to have two rules when mine were little - they were not to leave my side or to ask for anything around the boot sale except to visit the loo!)
...decide what you are looking for before you arrive, and begin to train your eye, as you walk along the lines, to pick out only those things (otherwise all you will see is an ocean of junk !)
...if you are buying with view to selling on e-bay, make sure items not prohibited, but saleable and with sufficient profit, or you will be throwing money down the drain!
...cover the area methodically either looking down the left side and then the right side of the lane or walking more slowly taking in both sides at once a little politeness and let sellers unpack a bit before diving headlong into their car boots looking for bargains!
...have a good look on, under, around and past the seller's table, because some of the more interesting or special items may be out of harms way
...make sure when buying that any sticky price labels on items will come off without damage - if they leave a mark you have good reason for further discount! prepared to walk around the car boot sale a second time because other people will have turned over the merchandise and may have uncovered something interesting
... haggle, but not unreasonably. Pitches cost money and sellers deserve a decent price for good quality items. when you ask the price - it might just get you a discount.
...don't waste your pennies on buying things that have moisture sensitive adhesives at car boot sales - like envelopes, cigarette papers etc. Chances are, the seller will have had them out in the rain on previous occasions and they just won't be that good. Such items are cheap to buy in the shops so it's really not worth the risk.
...make sure you have a good look at what you're buying - after all, you won't be able to take it back for refund if it's got faults! Ask questions. If something seems too good to be true, it probably is.
...ask for a discount if you are buying multiple items
...consider carefully before parting with large amounts - it's easy to get carried away in the excitement and spend more than you intended. If you are not sure, leave your number with the seller and negotiate after the fair is over if appropriate.
...come back later and re-negotiate if something was too expensive earlier on (sellers often reduce prices later in the day or if the weather gets bad)
...avoid large impulse buys as it is becomming increasingly difficult to dispose of large unwanted items at refuse tips
....don't take out with you any more money than you can afford to spend as buying at car boot sales can be quite addictive!
...avoid leaving precious purchases with sellers for safe keeping - they may go home early or even resell to someone else for a higher price (poor practice, but it happens!)
...draw your car up closer to the seller's stall when collecting bulky or heavy items, rather than trying to lug it back miles through the crowds.
...your research on e bay if you have any items to sell that may be of value (try the 'completed listings' option in 'advanced search' to give an accurate idea bearing in mind that e bay is an international and not local trading place)
...make sure you have a pasting table or two and plastic sheeting if it decides to rain.
...go with someone else (it's so much easier as you can take it in turns to serve and it's more fun with two)
...get everything ready the night before, check the weather forecast and pack the car
...check the pockets of sale clothing for money and other valuables
...take plenty of small change, small notes, pen and paper, flask, picnic, carrier bags, a chair and bin liners
...try to have the children minded, as they can get bored, irritable or can even wander off
...consider making your stall stand out from the crowd with a colourful tablecloth, signboards or have some other attraction (see below)
...choose a sunny pitch away from big muddy puddles
...arrive early prepared for the 'boot-divers' and ask over-eager buyers to wait until you have unpacked the car (unfortunately it's at this time that items often go 'missing' so be firm and vigilant)
...consider waiting, say 15 mins after arriving, for the dealers to drift off before unpacking if you don't want this type of trade
...leave a gap between your sale area and your neighbours so that people can get between them (unless you want your items trodden on!)
...keep your car doors locked when you are serving, and your takings somewhere safe
...display some clothes on a (sturdy) rail putting your most colourful eyecatching items in front and some in a pile - people love to rummage!
...display your most saleable items where they can best be seen and touched e.g. dvd's, electronics, cakes and jams, digital cameras, mobile phones, perfumes etc on the table but less saleable things like kids cuddly toys old shoes or household junk on a sheet on the ground
...if you can, arrange in themes, e.g. all your cosmetic items in one place, framed pictures in another, etc so that there is a logic to your stall.
...have a look at your stall from the other side, the buyer's perspective - does it look attractive / inviting / interesting? Is everything displayed to it's full potential? Can people get to the stall itself to pay, or is there too much stuff in front of it?
...if you have several tables or dress rails, consider a semi cirular arrangement - psychologically it's snug and inviting, and it gives buyers less chance for their attention to wander to the next stall!
...spread your stuff out to the sides so that people can see what it is you're offering.
...state the price firmly with no upward inflection in your voice. So, for example, answering to a price quiery with "£3 ??" sounds like you're inviting your buyer to beat you down on price.
...charm your would-be customers with some friendly banter (not easy if you've been up since 5 a.m., I know!)
...resist the urge to price things with labels. It may seem like a nice idea but it puts buyers off - let them ask the price and perhaps haggle with you. They can also leave marks on the items. The downside of this suggestion is that you and your helper(s) have to remember prices quoted
...keep in mind why you are there - is it to just get rid of as much stuff as quickly as possible or to make as much money as you can? Charge accordingly!
...use the tactics of the supermarkets and advertise 'buy one get one free' offers if it suits your purpose
...offer to mind heavy or bulky purchases while the buyer continues to walk around the sale (but sure they make a note of how to find you again and tell them what time you plan to leave!)
...take part or full payment for any items you agree to deliver, not forgetting the buyers telephone number and address of course!
...have a walk around the boot sale yourself and grab any bargains you see - you might even resell them on your stall and maybe make a profit!
...leave fake, dangerous or illegal goods at home
...don't sell knives, lighterfuel etc to underage kids
...try to be impersonal about your personal items (e.g. no buyer really wants to know that you wore that nightdress when you were in labour with your fourth child!)
... when it's over, take all your unsold items home - charity shops are grateful for saleable items but not rubbish! Recycle what is left.
...keep smiling, and just hope it will all have been worth it!
Sellers - here's how to clear that trash and make some cash!....
READ THIS... I virtually furnished my home and the family's wardrobe from car boot sales! I have sixteen years of regular, national and international car booting experience and (for what they're worth) here are my observations......
Things that I have seen sell well, especially when in good condition and nicely presented, either rare or very up to date, are collectables such as vinyl singles and LP's, 40's 50's and now 60's bric a brac / clothing / accessories or furniture, goth clothing, genuine branded designer clothing & accessories, recent GCSE revision books, clothes for larger people, leather suitcases, dvd's (especially those for small children), mannequins, Mason & Pearson hair brushes, old dress rails, designer toiletries and cosmetics, terry nappies, latest electronics, old photo albums, granny's embroidered linen, patchwork quilts, eiderdowns and her Lloyd loom furniture, digital cameras, anything to do with glamour photography, stiptease or burlesque, mobile phones, diy / garden tools and equipment, ghd hair straighners, antique jewellery, padded coat hangers, quality boxed items in unused condition, wooden ironing boards, well presented home baked goods, garden produce, brewery memorabilia, technical books (unless they are dated), veterinary and animal husbandry books, sporrans, old perfume bottles, fake pot plants.
TIP - It's worth considering buying in a few sweets, cans of drinks, tissues and wet-wipes - they're great to offer at the front of the stall to attract mums with small kids.

Things that don't normally to sell well are basically things that were cheap or common place when they were new -like cuddly toys, cookware, toiletries, supermarket clothing and accessories. Also dolls dressed in knitwear by some granny or other, odd rolls of wall paper, SLR cameras, used underwear, clothes sized 8, Christmas decorations in summer, naff ornaments, carpet off cuts, used candles, anything broken, dirty animal cages, kitchen gadgets that clutter up your cupboards like yoghurt or bread making machines, china, tea /coffee sets, place mats, second hand wigs, drinking glasses, fondu sets, cocktail sets, foot spas, used shabby furniture that's too big for the average car to transport, toys or books that are out of fashion, half finished craft projects, knitting machines or any machine without it's instuctions, novelty items such as singing fish (!), oversized pot plants, ice buckets, '90's fashion, cd's that came free with the sunday papers.
Things you might assume will sell well but you'll be very lucky if they do includes anything not very smoking related items, stuffed creatures, genuine fur (don't even think about offering anything made from an endangered animal!) Also forget about retiring on the profits you'll make from...dated but quality hi fi / computing /, old hairdressing clippers, Franklin Mint plates or similar 'limited edition' items, Pokemon cards and the like, 'Beanies', odd bits of china, sheepskin coats, used boots and shoes, alcoholic miniatures, old typewriters, 'Just the Right Shoe' collectables, musical instruments, sewing machines, pictures in cross stitch, popular videos / cassette tapes / cd's, most curtains (except perhaps vintage or Laura Ashley), designer childrens wear, wedding / bridesmaid / evening dresses, posh hats, massive stuffed toys, uniforms, treasured collections of things, gym equipment.
Things that catch the eye and draw people to your stall are items that make people talk and smile! You're looking to invite comments like 'Oh, I had one of those' or 'I've always wanted one of them', or 'I remember using these' etc. A radio or cd player for sale with some popular music on will not only prove the item works, but will attract attention. If you are selling a guitar and can play it - do! Another caring yet cunning trick is place a bowl of water on the ground - thirsty dogs will then drag their owners to your stall! If you have a highly desirable piece like a statue or mannequin that will attract people, bring it along -just for display. ( I know a seller who has a Marylin Monroe bust on her stall - she'd never part with it, but it gets people interested. ) Once attracted, watch how buyers are inclined to touch, to talk, to try and to buy! Books on cars, old copies of Bizarre or Playboy, gardening tools, record collections and DIY stuff always seem to attract guys, (even if, in reality, they can't knock a nail in straight!). Vintage or antique items, kitchenalia, old photo albums, ladies hats, handbags, Moses baskets, parasols, long evening gloves, old corsets, enamel or china chamber pots, button collections, designer labels, home baked goods, pots of local honey, anything tartan, leopardskin or animal print, bright colours especially pink, sequins, lurex, snakeskin, beads, jewellery, sunglasses, feather boas, fur (real or fake), luxury goods, incense sticks (burning), mannequins, wooden chests, things that make people smile - like dresses with huge shoulder pads, kinky stuff, fancy dress items, shell suits or 6" stilettoes are all items that will get your stall noticed, and your trash turned into CASH!
Oh, and if you can, do think about taking a metal detector around the field when everyone has gone, if allowed - you'll be amazed at what you can find!
P.S. The most unlikely thing I have ever seen being offered for sales was someones recent wedding album, complete with photos! (since writing this I have been e mailed by someone who had theirs stolen! so a word of warning... do remember what you are being offered at a car bootie may not'theirs to sell'!)
I am sure there is lots more information I could include but that's probably enough for now. I give permission for this guide to be copied providing I am given credit for my work. I have other guides which are really kewl and need your YES votes....

on vintage clothing
on identifying vintage furs
on the care of fur
on buying shoes on e bay
ten e bay listing tips to save moeny
on fetish clubs

Alternative ways to make cash from trash

If the idea of packing up all your things and lugging them around doesn't take your fancy try an online car boot sale like iBootSale where you can currently get a FREE 90 day, 25 item pitch. It works just like a real car boot sale in that you add your unwanted belongings to your pitch for others to browse through, buy and even haggle over with you.

You could also sell things on eBay. You will need to register as a buyer first of all and then click on the 'Sell' tab - there is a small fee to list items for sale. Read our full article on selling things on eBay here.

Another useful way of getting rid of unwanted goods is to post an ad on Gumtree in the 'Stuff For Sale' section. It's free and really easy to do - simply click on the 'post an ad' tab on the left, choose 'Stuff for Sale', then the category that's most applicable to your items and then fill in a few basic details (location, price, description etc). After that all you have to do is wait for people to get in touch with you.

Sell books online at Green Metropolis where all the books sold make the seller £3. It's very simple to do and you don't need to enter the books details. All you do is log on, enter the book's ISBN number (check the back of the book) and describe its condition. There's no charge for listing books, so it really is the ideal way to make money and recycle your old books.


One of the most popular ventures in recent years has been the car boot sale. Now almost all these areas have a year round selection of these potentially profitable events. Most are organised by charitable organisations, in all types of location - and you are sure to know of some locally. Whether arranged by charities or not they offer considerable potential for commercial market purposes.

Car boot sales are primarily intended for the disposal of household 'junk'. But they are also places where 'proper' market traders can find a good demand. Virtually anything can be sold at such a sale - so give it a try!

Perhaps the best use for the car boot sale is learning about the market trade - and making money in the process! You can then move on to bigger and more profitable regular markets if you so wish. A good way of starting is to book your car in at a selection of forthcoming car boot sales. These usually cost no more than 5 to attend - but you could usually recoup that dozens of times from just one short market. Maybe several hundred pounds in a weekend.

In many cases your stock for a car boot sale is otherwise worthless and will cost you nothing. Simply clear out all your household junk and take it along to form your stall!
Anything classified as 'junk' sells readily. You can also ask neighbours, friends and relatives for junk. In most cases you will be doing them a service and give you the items free - or you could share the proceeds of anything sold - in your favour.

When you sell what you already have it will be necessary to buy stock in to resell. Buy 'job lots' from second hand traders - also look around household effects auctions. One source of new stock is wholesalers - the ones who supply regular market traders. In some circumstances you could perhaps sell home made goods. Food, handicrafts, etc are all possibilities. In some cases a very high proportion of the selling price will be clear profit. Even several hundred percent in many cases!

Consider selling anything at a car boot sale. Books, toys, and records of all types are some of the fastest sellers. Interesting ornaments, curios and things in the 'antique' line always attract a lot of curiosity sales at high prices. The only thing you should aim to avoid is clothes. These take a lot of preparation, rarely selling well and at low prices.Don't bother with impressive displays for a car boot sale. Just pile everything into large cardboard boxes for easy transport. If possible make everything in the same box the same price to save individual price labels. When you arrive at a sale place everything on the ground in front of your car - buyers just can't resist a 'rummage' in the hope of finding a bargain!

Mark up the prices a little higher than you might think. Most people will then pay that price without question. If someone makes an offer, though, you can accept it and still make a good profit. Never take really low offers though - keep the item for selling at a future sale.

You will not need any special selling techniques or 'sales pitch' for an ordinary car boot sale. Good quality items sell themselves - and even low priced items soon build up into treble figure profits. Bearing in mind your overheads are very low this makes an excellent sideline income. Develop a circuit of car boot sales - maybe several per weekend - and you can soon earn a full time income in much less than part time hours!

A car book sale is an excellent starter business

A car book sale is an excellent starter business. But, there is of course a limit to the amount of cash you can earn. If you want a truly large income then you should look to a regular market stall or stalls. These can still be part time - at weekends, the odd day off, or a 'housewife' type business. But, they also form the basis of a sound full time business venture - one where you can work and earn each and every day if you wish!

Market trading may look like a very basic venture. And, in some ways, it is. But, it can also be a very big business with considerable takings - so don't underestimate it. A little capital is required to start, though this is really a very moderate amount.

Two types of market can be identified as being ideal for the would be trader. The very best types are the regular markets run by local councils on a daily or weekly basis. These operate on purpose made sites - or in a busy town centre street and sell a wide variety of goods. You could also consider privately organised markets. A good example of these is the Sunday markets that are held in many towns and cities, often indoors. Choose either, or both, depending on what sort of business you require. And, very importantly, the time you have available to trade.

Your first step as a market trader is to look for a venue with good potential. Don't just decide to start and then turn up with goods at your nearest market! Most towns and cities have a variety of public markets and you need to choose the most suitable. Ensure the one you select is 'brisk but not too busy'. Anywhere within a 15 mile radius of your home is a desirable proposition.

After a little 'market research' contact the market for your intended sites well in advance. This is usually the local council - or sometimes a commercial organising firm. Ask one of the existing traders if unsure. Get full details of all conditions of obtaining a stall - and details of the rents which might be in the region of 10+ per day for a single stall unit. Many markets will have a waiting list - so apply to several in good time so you can start at the very earliest opportunity. The organisers will probably want to know what sort of goods you intend to sell - and expect you to stick to that trade. This is important since if there are already enough traders in that particular trade you may need to rethink before you will be accepted.

Gather information on your chances of obtaining a stall in your area - and what to sell. You will then be able to make serious enquiries with regard to obtaining stock for your venture. The best way of doing this is to sell the types of things that are already successfully sold at markets. These proven items are invariably best. It doesn't pay to be too different or original. Find your own range of suitable products within one of the existing market trades.

Foods, household goods, clothes, second hand items, seconds, fabrics, shoes, pottery, books, toys, jewellery, sweets, spare parts, small electrical items and curios are just some of the many things that are popular market sellers.

The choice is so wide it should not be that difficult to find a trade. Whatever it is do ensure it is a single trade - rarely can you successfully mix different types of goods on a single stall.

Buying from a wholesaler is the usual and most convenient way of obtaining stock. A range of wholesalers can be found in 'Yellow Pages' in all areas. They all tend to specialise in particular lines, so you may use several. Some will trade by mail order which makes things very convenient. Arrange to visit several to get an idea of how When market day arrives do ensure you are at the site, with your stock, quite early. In many cases stalls are allocated on a 'first come first served' basis. This will allow you to pick the optimum selling positions - near the front of the market but not too exposed - the weather is one of the few problems! Most market organisers will provide you with some sort of stall structure. So it is rarely necessary to go to the trouble of buying one - or any other sort of equipment.

For best sales results a market stall of any kind should be smartly presented. Arrange the counter area to make best use of the space - and arrange stock at different levels. Use a clean and tidy covering cloth. Make use of the space at the sides of the stall - and hang things over the top. Never allow stock to creep onto someone elses area - or allow theirs to do the same to you! Move goods around to form an interesting and ever changing effect. Keep a special place for money and valuable stock lines.

Most stalls should clearly price all the goods they have onoffer. Rarely should you accept offers for anything as it is 'not done' today. However the advantage of a market stall business is that you can change prices to suit demand and be competitive. Many other businesses could never hope to do this!

It is no longer necessary to 'call out your wares', unless you want to, as used to be very popular at one time. A good set of products well presented will sell themselves. Always strive to give a good service and good value and you will be able to establish a lucrative and continuing business.

One tip is to make a point of getting to know your fellow traders. They are an important source of help and advice - as you will be to them. Listen to suggestions for new product lines or new wholesale sources. In particular try to get their opinions of other markets in your area. You may well find a market where your stall can do even better than the one you are at.

Apart from these basics there is little else you will not learn in the running of your stall. Despite humble origins there is certainly nothing humble about a market stall takings. Some market stalls are run by very serious business people who take many thousands of pounds weekly from a circuit of stalls in the area. You may also want to develop a lucrative 'circuit'.

Tips to Get Stated on your Car Boot Sale

You are sure to find that a car boot sale is the very easiest way to get started in the trade. Follow that with a regular market stall, then increasing the number of stalls. Learning as you go is a sure way of reducing risk and outlay to a minimum - but building sound returns.

When you first start don't consider a daily market stall on the same site - keep moving round to find the best. And, don't even consider a fixed indoor market stall until you have gained some experience. These are little different from shops and thus can be risky unless you know what you are doing. In the same way avoid antiques or collectors 'flea' markets without some knowledge of the subject. These are certainly markets, and quite lucrative, but do differ in some important ways. The good thing about a regular market is that your profits are virtually guaranteed - and consistent.

It is vital to remember NOW that market trading is a business you can start and be well rewarded for. Many market traders are professional experts. But, this does not close the door to newcomers. Successful market trading is a valuable skill - but it can be picked up in basic form very easily. In fact, you are virtually assured of a profit - whether you choose a weekend sideline or a rewarding full time enterprise.