Car Boot Buying – Tips for Getting the Most From Your Local Car Boot

*This is a collaborative post*

I love the idea of going to a car boot. I think I’ve romanticised it a little – I always have visions of perusing stalls filled with high quality items at outrageously low prices, haggling the friendly stall owners to even lower amounts and walking away with arm fulls of bargains whilst eating a delicious bacon bap from a nearby burger van. It’s not quite like that in real life is it? A lot of stalls are actually just filled with someone else’s junk, and they are just hoping you’ll come along and take it off their hands so they don’t have to visit the dump on the way home. It requires a lot of effort (and luck) to find some decent stuff; you’ve got to be prepared to rummage through a lot of tat if you want to unearth some treasure. It can all feel a bit overwhelming, but it is often worth it when you come away with a purchase you’re  pleased with. Here are some great tips for making the most of a car boot sale as a buyer, and some great ways to save yourself some money, or even make a few pennies for yourself!

Decide on Tactics

Firstly decide what you’re going for – is there something specific you’re looking to buy or are you just going to browse the bargains? Are you looking for items that you’ll be able to sell on for a profit or something you need for yourself? Then set a budget. It’s easy to get carried away at places like this, so if money is tight then decide on the max amount you’re going to spend and stick to it. Take that much cash and leave anything else at home to avoid the temptation to overspend. Don’t forget some money for snacks and ice creams too though!

If you’re taking the kids, make it fun and keep them entertained by giving them a budget of a pound or two each as well – let them have a go at bargain hunting too and who knows what they might come home with.

Photo by Roberto Pansolli on Unsplash

Buying Items to Make a Profit

If you’re planning on buying items that you’ll be able to resell for a profit then you’ve got to be smart. You need to find items that will be easy to sell on, and you need to buy them for the lowest price possible to increase your profit margin. Items like furniture can be upcycled and resold for a higher price, but remember to factor in the cost of the supplies you might need plus the time you’ll have to put in to do them up. Have a list of items (either in mind or written down) that you know will sell well, or of things that are commonly sold as low value items but are actually worth more. Items such as pottery, art and other antiques are often under valued by people who haven’t successfully identified them, but if you know what you’re looking for then you may spot a high value find. Old coins, jewellery and silverware can also be great investment purchases. The value of silver can fluctuate, but places like this website can help you to understand the current price of silver. Becky from Thrifty Home says books can be a great earner too if you find a good one – “Books can net you a tidy sum and usually not even the seller has a clue they are worth something. The more obscure the better, and you can check on Amazon to see what they are going for second hand before you buy”.

Play your cards right and you can definitely make some decent money. Here’s a great story from Chantele from Two Hearts One Roof – “Play dumb! If you spot something you know if worth more, don’t be too excited or forward about wanting it. If the seller thinks you really want something they are likely to give a higher price. Hubby knows audio equipment so was often on the look out for bargains when we were students to sell on for profit. He spotted a Bose wave radio with CD player…they called it an alarm clock with CD play they asked for £20, hubby ummed and ahhed asked me if I thought it was worth it…I also played dumb even though I knew the brand (I didn’t know figures mind!). We eventually bought it and hubby then sold it within 24 hours for £230, knowing they are worth £600 new. This was from a trader too, not just a regular car booter!”

When to Arrive

Most car boot sales start early in the morning, but locally we have a ‘lazy car boot’ which opens a little later on in the morning. Some of them are fiercely competitive and will have potential buyers queuing up for hours before it opens, and some are a little more chilled. It might take a little bit of trial and error to work out when the best time to arrive is. Being there bright and early means you have first dibs on the goodies, but going later on means you might pick up a bargain because sellers don’t want to take anything home. Jennifer from Mighty Mama Bear says “We find it better to go a bit later on. Sellers don’t usually want to pack up all their stuff and take it home, they want to get rid of it! If you go too early they may be waiting to see if they can sell it at a higher price. Later on you’re more likely to get a bargain”.

Photo by Clem Onojeghuo on Unsplash

Be Prepared

Car boots are of course most popular in the warmer months, so wear something cool and comfy – remembering sun cream, hats and drink plenty of water. Since it’s Britain you’ll probably want to have a brolly in the car too – just in case of a downpour. Some stalls will have carrier bags to give you if you buy a few bits, but it might be helpful to have a bag with you. Having cash is important obviously, but also try to make sure you’ve got a good collection of coins and smaller notes – this will help you to haggle (“ooh I’ve only got a fiver..”) and also good for when sellers run out of change!

Get Ready to Rummage

You may find yourself rooting wildly through someone else’s belongings – totally normal car boot behaviour don’t worry! Some stalls will be neatly laid out and displayed, some of them will consist of piles or boxes filled with miscellaneous stuff. Jess from Tantrums to Smiles says “don’t be afraid to have a rummage, if someone doesn’t know how much something is worth it could just be chucked into a tub or box with other items”. Often the best items are hidden away, so get digging if you want to find the good stuff.


Approaching a seller to haggle the price can feel a bit daunting if you’ve never done it before, but once you start you’ll soon be a pro. A lot of the time items won’t be labelled with a price at a car boot, so you’ll have to ask for the price any way. They’ll give you a price and will most likely be prepared for you to knock them down a bit. Offer them a little less (knock off about 25-50% if you’re feeling ballsy – be prepared for them to come back with a counter offer), or give them your best price and be prepared to walk away if they say no. Stevie from A Cornish Mum says “If you’re interested in a few items, ask them for their best price, as the more you are buying the more likely they are to give you a good discount. I’ve gotten some absolute bargains this way”.

And there you have it! A few tips for getting the best from your local car boot. Once you’ve grabbed all your bargains you may find yourself with some old stuff to get rid of – why not go from car boot buyer to car boot seller?! Emma from Bubbablue and Me has some great tips for being a successful seller.

Leave a Reply

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.