Where to Sell Vintage Items Part 1: Car Boot Sales

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One of the quickest ways to make a bit of extra cash is to sell second hand goods. In this series of articles, I talk specifically about where to sell vintage items. Vintage means things that were made in the last century, between the 1950s and 1990s. There is always a good market out there for vintage toys and games, vintage clothing, collectables, vintage kitchenaliavintage kitsch, art, jewellery, and more!

I will be writing a full series on where to sell vintage items, from in-person events, to the internet and auction rooms. This article is the first of these and gives you some top tips for selling vintage at car boot sales.

Selling at Car Boot Sales

When you are looking at where to sell vintage items, car boot sales are one of the best places to start. 

Arguably, these are now a well-established part of a British Sunday. The idea came to the UK from the USA in the 1980s and regular car boots are still going strong today, with many well-established ones a regular fixture in your local town. Ask around for the best ones, or you may see a sign by the roadside each week and decide to give that one a try. You can also check out the Car Boot Junction website.

Preparing

You need to load up your car with the items you wish to sell the day before (apart from valuables), as most car boots have a very early start (usually from 6 am for setup). However, there have been some later start ones over recent years to give people more time to get organised. These usually start around midday. 

When preparing what to sell, it is worth spending some time making sure your items are clean and presentable. If you have clothes, take hangers and a rail, and wash and iron what you can before selling. Well presented stalls attract more buyers, so include a folding table or two plus tablecloth or tarpaulin to spread out your items for sale on the day. 

NB Most car boots will not let you sell certain items such as counterfeit goods, alcohol, guns etc. If they have a website or number to call, do check before the day.

Pack breakables carefully in strong boxes, and make sure small items are safe so they don’t get lost. Get organised with your stall fee ready and some spare change the day before also, and check the weather forecast. If there is even the slightest hint of rain in the air it will limit the number of stalls, and in turn, buyers.

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On the day
Take some food with you (especially breakfast!), as some early sales can go on till about lunchtime. There will be food stalls there but they can be expensive now and can easily eat up your profit. Be prepared for a long day and dress appropriately for the weather. For warm days take sunscrean and a hat, for cooler days layer up your clothing.

You don’t usually need to book to sell at a car boot sale and will pay at the gate, in cash, on arrival. Prices for a pitch vary but is usually about £10 for a car and more for a van. Once paid the car boot staff in hi-vis jackets will direct you where to park and then you can start unloading your car. 

Be prepared for the early buyers, and yes they will be wanting to look at your items before you get them out of the box! Don’t be put off by this as these people are usually collectors or dealers who are prepared to pay the most money for items. It is a great feeling to get back your stall fee early on!

As for pricing items, you can do this the day before if you wish and label up your stock, or make a price list. This can help you be prepared for the early birds. However, I would advise not to put prices on as buyers like to ask you the price instead, and then haggle. They will either offer you a lower price or ask what the best is on it. Have an idea of what you want to get for an item and start with a slightly higher price, as the eventual price you get will probably be much lower!

As you sell be approachable and friendly. Keep a positive attitude and if someone doesn’t want to buy remember that’s their choice. Don’t get offended by those who offer you a cheaper price, this is a car boot sale after all and they are after a bargain! Politely decline their offer if you really want to sell at the higher price. However you may find that you come home with it and it takes a while to sell. Online selling websites such as EbayVinted and Etsy might be better for you in this case.

Packing up and finishing
At the end of the day, it’s time to pack up. Knowing the time do this is a bit of a wait and see. Some car boots specify that you must be there until a certain time, others leave it up to the stall holders. Usually you can tell its time when the crowds start to dwindle a bit and sales get slower. You might see other stall holders packing up too.

Pack your remaining items carefully again, as you might want to take them to another car boot, put a box together for auction, or donate to a charity shop. Don’t leave rubbish on the field and be safe when leaving as you manoeuvre around the cars and people that are left.

All that is left to do is congratulate yourself on a good day when you are home, as you count your final takings and treat yourself to a well deserved rest!

This blog post is written by Rachel Toy, owner of Rachel’s Vintage & Retro. I am a vintage enthusiast writing about 20th Century Antiques and Collectables. I also sell a wide variety of vintage items such as Vintage Toys and Games, Vintage Tupperware, Vintage Pyrex, Vintage Kitsch and Vintage Plastics from my Vintage Website and Social Media.

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