I learned a lot from my fellow salesmen and women, I made a fair bit of dosh, and not wanting to pass by an opportunity to write, I've put together my 13 tops tips on how to sell successfully at the British tradition of a car boot.
Tip 1. Have plastic carrier bags available for your customers; they're always asking if you have any they can pinch. The best place to keep them is hanging off a wing mirror - quick access and they don't blow away.
Tip 2. Use a pasting table. They fold up nicely, their lightweight, and easy to erect. You could take a table cloth if you want to go for presentation. If you're selling furniture (I sold garden recliners, surprisingly easy sale even in October) you can use them as makeshift tables too. Some traders take tarpaulins to put goods out on display on floor. You can also display your waterproof items (pans, flower pots etc.) on the floor to get the maximum use out of your pitch.
Tip 3. Remember to bring a float. I had a dream the night before my car boot that a child ripped up six tenners I'd made, and it reminded me I needed to take some change with me the next morning. Grabbing a coffee from the local garage gave me the 50p's and £1's in change which I needed Quick and easy access is essential here; custom can come quite quickly so you need to be ready. I took about £25 in change to be on the safe side, and kept it in a not-so-trendy-but-very-useful bumbag.
Tip 4. Rope a friend in to help - good for a gossip during the quieter moments.
Tip 5. Wrap up warm, it's cold at 6am! I'm talking woolly hat, layers, gloves...the works! Take an umbrella in case it rains. If you get enough warning that it looks like it might rain, don't be disheartened - see it as a business opportunity and buy some cheap umbrellas to sell! Be warned though, a wet morning may mean fewer bargain hunters. If you have another weekend you can do the car boot, I would rearrange.
Tip 6. I would recommend that you wear your old Wellington boots. Not all venues have a hard-standing, and fields can get a bit boggy if it rained the night before.
Tip 7. Use a clothes rail for good presentation. And let people take the hangers if they want them! Funny how 'off' people can get about a measly hanger...
Tip 8. Fiction books weren't very popular on my stall. It might have been the lack of variety, but I went home with most of them. My random recipe books went down well though.
Garden items (furniture, tools)
Shoes and clothes
Umbrellas - even on that dry morning!
Tip 9. Be flexible on price. I just wanted everything to go, so I wasn't shy about selling items at a cheaper price than I'd originally hoped for. You won't get great prices for anything really, but if you're only going to bin or donate the stuff if it doesn't sell, £1 for something is better than a no-sale. If you sell 50 things at £1 you've made £50 straight away! Better than having to cart the whole lot home again...
Tip 10. It's a long six or seven hours, so take snacks to get you through the morning. Buying off the vendors will only eat into your profits. Fans of hot drinks will do well to prepare a tea flask - you'll welcome it, trust me.
Tip 11. Fill your car as much booty as possible. Make sure you take as much to sell as possible to make it worthwhile. You have to make back your £5-7 pitch fee at least! Go through all your cupboards (be ruthless!) and ask your parents, friends, work colleagues if they have anything they want to get rid of. They may let you keep some of the profit if they're feeling nice.
Tip 12. Chat to the trader on the next pitch. It might help pass any quiet minutes and could produce a useful ally if you need a loo break. There might even be an idea for a story in their chatter. My neighbour gave me a great line when I commented she had quite a varied stock on her tables: "Well, some people would call it stealing, but I don't get paid overtime at work, so I think it's justified..." She had scanners, printers, office supplies, all alongside your normal bits 'n' bobs. Actually, on second thoughts, be cautious about leaving your stall and stock in the hands of your neighbour. Just stick a cork in it and wait until you get home to pee!
Tip 13. Take your leftover stock to a charity shop. If you were willing to sell it, you don't need to take it home to clutter up your cupboards again. Plus, you'll get a wonderful feel-good buzz.
If you're interested in making some extra (tax free!) dollar at a car boot sale, check Car Boot Junction for your local venue. My little Yaris was the smallest vehicle on the field that morning, but I shifted most of my stock and made almost £60 from stuff I was only going to donate. Hopefully these tips will help you do the same.
Until next time...
Find me on Facebook