For the longest time we discussed doing a car boot sale. Perhaps a chance to make a few quid from some of our preloved belongings we thought.
Well, we arrived late. And by late, I mean 6.45am!! The field was not only well-populated with cars (and vans) but many stands were already awash with people in a frenzied hive of activity. So the first tip:
1) Never go it alone!
As if getting up at some ungodly hour of the morning was not enough, the instant you pull into your spot, and I mean before you even turn off the engine, the swarm of locusts descends. These ‘buyers’ want to know what you are selling and whether there’s anything for them on board. Add to that the dozens of people that appear as if from nowhere all over your ‘stuff’ before you have a chance to arrange a display and you will readily understand why it is so important never to attempt to do a car boot alone. Bring a friend, nab a relative, anything – just make sure you have company.
2) All hail the clear plastic sheeting
You spend your time arranging and rearranging the piles of merchandise between the waves of marauding buyers only to realise rain is on the way. It either spits or it pelts it down. Either way, unless you have some of that magical clear plastic sheeting to quickly throw over your items, your kit will be sodden in seconds. We at least had one large umbrella to protect the clothing stand but there was a bit of mopping up to do between showers.
3) Your tat is someone-else’s treasure
I would never have quite believed this one until I realised just how happy some people were to buy things I thought would never sell in a month of Sundays. Have confidence and take literally anything with you – someone just might buy it from you. Shoes sold, branded shirts were slow. Handbags sold, skirts more slowly.
4) Service with a smile
We found that being proactive around the stand, smiling, greeting people, and engaging with your prospective buyers (not surprisingly) ended in quite a few sales. Quite a lot of the folks around us sat in their car boots and just watched people walk buy. Not us! As Stephen Covey famously wrote, ‘be proactive’. It’s not only you that gets up stupidly early to be there – so remember the basics of customer service and smile 🙂
5) Rinse and repeat
Despite your best efforts, and unless you offload your unwanted stock to a seasoned pro, you are just as likely as we were to come home with a fair bit of your pre-loved stock unsold. Thing is, we not only made money from pre-loved belongings that have languished in boxes for years in the garage and roof space, but we really enjoyed the experience – despite forgoing any kind of Sunday morning lie-in; and so, we are off to do it all again soon.
Better to be over-prepared on this front. Make sure you have some bags of smaller coins with you, I found having 10p, 20p, 50p and £1 denominations was well-advised. Even if you end up not opening those bags of coins, knowing you have them with you is of real help when someone offers to pay for a 50p item with a £10 note. Next time, I might take some £5s with me.
Little people rule
Take things along that appeal to youngsters too – particularly if it’s not the mainstay of your stand. I had a real chuckle at the young boy – no more than 6 I’d say – who first rummaged around in a mixed bag of odds and ends before negotiating the price down with me on something that took his eye and then when he waltzed over to his Father all chuffed with his new acquisition, got reprimanded for buying ‘tat’.
The element of surprise
I was taken aback with the number of enquiries we had from people wanting to buy the suitcases and bags we used to bring our belongings to the sale in the first place. Also, we took a full sized mirror with us because we thought it would help us close clothing sales. Well, the mirror itself was perhaps more popular than the clothing rail itself! Also, I have a lovely pair of roller-blades to sell – yet it was the bespoke rucksack for carrying them around that got more of the attention. Makes me think about buying up a handful of these for next time.
Finally – Pricing
It’s difficult to accurately gauge your pricing. Too high and people walk immediately. Too low and you either do yourself out of much desired revenue or people start wondering what’s wrong with the item. Yet somewhere in there is the right price for both the serious customer, (not the marauding locusts that believe they should be able to buy anything for a pittance,) and the seller alike.
What killer tips for car boot sales do you have?
Please get involved and share them below!