“To car boot or not to car boot, that is the question”

Hello! Is anybody there? I’m new to WordPress, new to blogging and I’m probably making a big pigs ear of the whole thing. This is my very first post, so lets begin…..

TIME FOR A CLEAR OUT

So, a few weeks ago, my new college friend asked me if I was aware of the “caaboo”. She’s Romanian, it took me a while to click that she meant the “car boot”. Having lived in the UK for about 2 years, she’d only recently been introduced to the car boot phenomena and she loved it. Apparently they don’t have such things in Romania. Incidentally, I’d spent the few weeks previous squirreling through all of our worldly belongings, clearing out, gathering and ear-marking items for sale. Our children didn’t know it, but a LOT of their stuff had been ear-marked for disposal too.

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SPRING HAD SPRUNG

I proceeded to bore my college friend about my car boot planning activities, and before I knew it, I’d set a date and had Jedi-mind tricked *Posh-thing into helping me.

*For the purpose of this blog, I will be referring to one of my good friends as Posh-thing, because well, she’s posh. She is also devilishly-wickedly-filthied-sarcastically-sense-of-humoured. Hoo-rah – as she’d say

See my sellers tips further down this page if you are a novice thinking of selling at a car boot.

If you are anything like me and you’ve ever sold any of your stuff, you’ve probably tried the likes of Gumtree, Ebay and social media marketplaces. I have partaken in all of the above but I tend to dip in and out, having periods of great flurries of activity, then months of barren-ness. Every cupboard, draw, worktop and corner of our house was full of STUFF, and it was GROWING steadily. I had to take action. And I wanted to rid the house of as much as possible in one hit. Enter the Car Boot. The first car boot I ever sold at, my poor mother helped me. Our mound of sale items was very low valued (crockery, bric-a-brac, books, DVDs etc) and at the end of a very long and windy day, excluding our pitch fee we made a measly £6. The second one I did, my mother-in-law was my glamourous assistant. She’d given me loads of her stuff to sell as well and we went home with a very ample £90.

THE HELPER – INTRODUCING POSH-THING

Other than going to work, on holiday and other necessary evils that involve leaving the house, Posh-thing does not like to leave the house. Her most fav past time is snuggling on the sofa with her cats and blankets, drinking tea, eating biscuits and watching TV. She works hard so she deserves to, that is, until her friends demand the pleasure of her company. She had NEVER been to a car boot and didn’t want to go to one either, but being the super friend she is, she agreed to help me last year. Again, I had loads of stuff and a good mix of different types of things. And again, we made about £100. Solo, I’d be a very bad seller as I tend to just give stuff away for 50p, £1. Posh-thing, on the other hand, is a selling fiend. We kind of adopted a good cop/bad cop routine. If a buyer asked for a price on something, she would pluck a random figure out of thin air and I’d have to barter her down to a reasonable price – the buyers seemed to appreciate this!

DESTINATION – THE COAST ROAD

I’d only ever sold at one car boot sale, that being the Ryhope/Seaham coast road bootsale. We’d decided to try the one in Chester-Le-Street (Near Batley’s cash and carry). Turns out this one was waterlogged, so we went to the coast road one after all. These are organised by a company called Nobles Promotions. We called them before we set off and they advised the Chester-Le-Street one was cancelled. If they don’t answer the phone, you are connected to a voicemail message confirming the cancelled sites. Worth remembering to check before you set off. Even though I knew where this was, I incorrectly entered the postcode in the satnav and we ended up on a wild goose chase and turned up an hour late. We were literally the last car in the field. We no sooner opened the boot and the buyers swooped, rummaging through our boxes and bags before we even had a chance to set up! But again, it was another good day – we made £150! (Items sold included: Peppa Pig toys, 2 x bedside tables, 3 curtains, unused bedding, childrens clothes, blankets, cuddlies, candles, money boxes).

SELLING TIPS

So now that you’ve invested your precious time reading my ramblings, here are (what I think) are some useful tips for the novice booty seller.

  1. As well as the obvious items you are hoping to sell, have a good root around your house in the weeks before your planned car boot sale. Look for anything you no longer need and add it to the pile. I had things still in boxes and packaging that had been there for years, unused.
  2. Get a helper to help with the selling on the day. Be prepared for a few buyers to swoop at the same time, asking for prices and info about some of your items. It is very easy to get distracted and lose a potential sale because you didn’t hear a buyer ask you a question. In addition, you want to make sure someone doesn’t walk off without paying you.
  3. I’ve read other tips that suggest you have everything priced up and labelled before you go. I do not have time to do this and it’s never caused a problem. Most buyers have no problem asking for a price, then you can enter into the most enjoyable part – the haggle. Make it known you are willing to haggle. I just have a mental note of what I would LIKE for an item and what I’ll TAKE for an item. My motto is “do I really want to take that home?” If you are planning on doing more than one boot sale over the season, then yes, take stuff home with you. I only do the one each year as a way of clearing out. So if a buyer isn’t happy with my price and walks away, I’ll shout after them “would you give me £*? It may scream desperate/novice/mug – but I want my stuff gone!
  4. Be aware of the pre-entry time buyers (not sure of the correct term!). These are buyers who pay extra to enter the sale before the general admission. They get in earlier and dash around looking for all the best stuff, which is why they end up half in your car boot as you are trying to set up. You can get round this by arriving in a timely manner (ahem), make sure your table and clothing rails, baskets/tubs are on the top of your stuff so you can access them first. Get them out, then close your boot while you are setting these up. Last year, I politely asked a buyer to give us 10 minutes to set up and they were quite happy to do so.
  5. Be prepared to be on your feet for a good few hours. Take drinks and snacks, wet wipes, anti-bac wipes, plastic bags/recycled packaging for buyers, a tape measure, a camping chair or two, a decent float with plenty of change.
  6. Be prepared to take stuff home. The first few sales I did, I stupidly expected to go home with an empty boot. Truth is, you can’t predict what is going to sell and what will die a death. In my experience, items that seemed to do well: anything still with a tag on (clothing, shoes, toys), anything still in original packaging (like bedding, gifts such as candles, skincare sets, perfumes), some children’s toys – a big storage box full of Peppa Pig toys was bought by one person. Small furniture (I sold 2 bedside tables and an occasional table).
  7. Be realistic with your pricing. If you have items that you want over £10 for, think about selling these online first. A lot of car boot buyers want a bargain and see it as more of a morning out than a serious shopping trip. For most of my items, I group into price brackets, then have the odd few higher value items. For example, children’s clothing, most are £1, unless it’s a nice dress or denim – they’re £2, then jackets/coats/party dresses are £3-£4.
  8. Don’t get disheartened if you don’t do well. I go with low expectations, it’s kind of a punt. If I fail miserably, I’ve still had a good few hours in the fresh air with my matey Posh-thing – she left the house, hoorah! DVDs/CDs/Books – I’ve never really done well with these. Others may have better experience. And I’m never too sure how electricals will do. Some buyers steer clear as they can’t test they work. But if its something you can squeeze in your boot, take it anyway. Saying that, I sold a gro-egg and a gro-clock. I think I got about £3 each for these.
  9. Go Comfy. Comfy footwear, layer up, something waterproof. And there is a chance you’ll have to pack up quick if it rains. It can also be windy, what with it being open air and all, so think about how you are displaying lightweight items that may blow away.
  10. Your pitch fee is set, so take as much as you can to increase your chances of selling as much as possible. And remember, what you make after your fee, isn’t really profit because you’ve bought all this new.

So there it is, my first blog. Was it useful, informative, boring, a shoddy mess? I really have no idea what I’m doing, so any advice would be greatly appreciated.