If your house is full of unwanted trinkets, toys and tat and you could do with some extra cash, a car boot sale could be a great solution to your problems. In a matter of hours you will have decluttered your house, perhaps paid for a weekend away, and learned a little bit about what it is like to be a retailer – a helpful skill for a negotiator. There are several things you can do to maximise your profits and make sure you earn enough to cover the entry fee.
Do a reccy
Visit a site as an observer to get an understanding of the market and who is buying there. See where the busiest stalls are pitched; often these are close to the entrance or food stalls.
Pack the night before
Put your items in boxes so you can quickly pack your car in the morning. Take a collapsible table and ground sheets on which to lay the items; make sure this is last in the boot so when you get there you can get them out first. Look at the weather forecast the night before to help you prepare efficiently.
I would suggest not putting prices on items; firstly, it saves time, and secondly people may pay more than you expect for an item. But make sure you are aware of the going rate for your gear and know how much you are prepared to accept for each item – visit sites like eBay to get an idea. Last year a Rene Lalique vase was bought by a woman at a car boot sale in Dumfries for £1 and fetched £32,450 at auction at Christie’s; visit an antiques shop beforehand if you think an item could be valuable!
Get to the site before the official sellers’ opening time so you can be one of the first in the queue and if possible choose a high-traffic site. If it is raining look for a dry pitch to sell your goods. Go with a friend – it helps to have an extra pair of eyes as unfortunately there can be thieves about, and it also makes it more fun. If you have time, check out the prices of other sellers to make sure you are competitive.
Pitch like a pro
Set up quickly and efficiently. Lay out your store like a retailer would: put seasonal items at the front with products placed in logical groupings. For example, on a summer’s day put barbecue and camping equipment and parasols prominently, and popular all-year-round items like buggies on a “children’s goods” rug. If you are selling clothes, use a clothes rail to present them.
Offering customers a drink may help drum up trade; on a hot summer’s day offer a nice refreshing squash or coffee on a cold frosty morning.
When your stall is set out, take a look at it from the front as a customer sees it – would the store appeal to you if you were passing by?
Think what could stop people buying products and have an answer ready for any questions.
“Does the CD work?” – bring a CD player for people to try it out before they buy.
“Does the electronic game work?” – bring batteries.
“I’ve got no way of carrying it around” – have bags at hand.
“How does this work?” – bring the manuals and packaging.
Now put on your money belt (with plenty of loose change) and prepare to haggle!
Create some point of sale material
People love a bargain. Make signs using sales lines to attract customers – for example, Bogof (buy one get one free) or more creative ones like “collector’s gems” for some of your older items such as niche magazines or vinyl records.
Use your negotiating skills
The best hagglers arrive early. Be prepared to bargain and do it with smile and charm. Package items up; if someone is interested in the buggy why not ask them a few questions, for example the child’s age and sex. They may be interested in buying a tricycle and a few Thomas the Tank Engine toys – your original sale could double!
If you think someone’s offer is too low, politely say no and tell them why you feel it is worth the price you are asking – expert hagglers aren’t fearful of early rejection and often bounce back later with a higher proposal.
Move things around
If some items aren’t selling well move them to a different position on the stall as customers may have missed them when walking past.
Remember why you came
If the idea was to declutter, towards the end of the sale create an “everything must go” sign. If you wanted to make money and think you might do better selling some items elsewhere, put them to one side. Use your vocal cords to good effect and let customers know of some great tactical combinations; for example the sun hat and sunglasses were £6, now £3 for the pair.