Succeeding in Car Boot and Yard Sales

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I’m a confirmed Car Booter. Buying is great, but I mostly sell. It all started when we wanted to downsize our house two years ago. I’m still selling, even though the move is history, because I love the whole experience. I’m not the best one to give tips for buying, because if I think something’s worth the asking price, I’ll buy it, end of. However, I would like to pass on a few tips I’ve learned to other sellers.

Buyers assume you’re at the sale because you enjoy it, you’re getting rid of your junk and you don’t want to take anything home with you. For this reason, some will offer you insulting prices. Don’t fall for it. If your item is in good condition – and you shouldn’t be selling it if it isn’t – remind the buyer how much a new one would cost. Some buyers may persist at this point, so make it clear you have overheads to pay in fuel costs and pitch fees, and you expect some return for all your hard work. And it is hard work; a single boot sale is a full day’s work if it’s done properly; you’ve got to sort out your stuff, make sure it’s clean, load the vehicle, unload and display your wares, spend at least 2 hours selling, and then pack away what’s left. Then it’s back home to unload again.

Don’t sell yourself or your goods short. Ask between 50p and £2 more than you actually expect to receive for each item. Then you can haggle so the buyer thinks they have a bargain, and if someone pays the asking price without quibbling, you’ve made a little extra on the deal.

If you sell at a lot of sales in the same area, there are two things you can do to boost interest in your stall. Arrange the items differently at each sale, and try to have several newly-for-sale items each time. Place these in a prominent position on your stall. Buyers tend to go to all the sales in their area, so if your stall layout is the same every time, or if you just keep taking the same stuff to several sales in a row, they’ll just walk on by. Car boot sale buyers have an elephant-style memory for what they’ve seen before.

Another good way to generate interest in your stall is to have some new items for sale alongside the rest. Check out Ebay’s wholesale and job lots for clearance bargains. I just bought 72 baseball caps for £16 and they’re flying off the stall at £1 each; that’s almost a 500% return on my investment! Don’t have too many new items though, as some sale organisers will class you as a market trader and charge a lot more for your pitch.

Price mark your new items and refuse to haggle. I sell in a holiday area, so I always carry shampoos and shower gels, as people tend to forget to bring them. If anyone persists in haggling over my already cheap prices, I have a killer response. I ask, ‘Would you go into Boots and haggle over shower gel?’ The answer, of course, is ‘No.’ I then point out that I’m like an open air Boots; I’m selling new items at a price fixed to give me a modest profit, so the price you see is the price you pay. It works nearly every time, and if it doesn’t, I’d rather lose the sale than give the stuff away.

Then of course, there’s the ‘It’s cheaper on the stall over there’ ploy. There’s only ever one answer to that: ‘Go and buy it over there, then!’ This happened to me last week. I was selling bracelets at £2.50, and I knew shops were charging up to £10 for the same thing. A lady told me a stall in the next row was selling the same bracelets for £2. I told her to go and buy it there, but she said they hadn’t got the colour she wanted, so could she have one of mine for £2? The answer was a resounding ‘No!’ Later, I checked on the other stall, and her bracelets were £2.50, the same as mine. It turned out the lady in question had tried exactly the same trick on her! She didn’t fall for it either, but it just shows how careful you need to be with some people.

I hope these hints will help you to be a successful seller. I love Car Booting. You’re in the fresh air, meeting lots of new people, getting rid of unwanted stuff and making a few pounds into the bargain. How great is that?


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