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