Our top ten tips for buying

Car boot sales can be incredible for finding hidden gems. There are multiple examples of items being bought at car boot sales and then being sold at auction for a significantly higher price.

Here Are Our Tips For Buying At Car Boot Sales:

1. The Early Bird. Remember that the early bird catches the worm! Car booters are up notoriously early, so to ensure that you get the pick of the best on each stall, get there as soon as you can. There’s always the opportunity to catch up on a bit of sleep after you’ve captured a few bargains!

2. Haggle. Us Brits are often shy of haggling, and negotiating prices down in the high street shops of the UK won’t get you very far these days. However, a car boot sale is one place where you will definitely enjoy some success in haggling. Be polite and respectful, but work hard to make sure you get a deal that you’re happy with.

3. Network. If you are a regular at car boot sales – or at one in particular, it might be a good idea to take along a business card. If you can make some contacts who could give you first refusal on their items then that could give you the opportunity of finding some hidden gems before anybody else. Plus, it’s always good to make friends with similar interests!

4. Etiquette. There are a number of unwritten rules of car boot sales. There may be a scrummage for some stalls in particular, so be careful to not become over-zealous in your approach. Always be polite in your haggling, and take care when inspecting items for sale. No seller will take kindly to in-depth poking and prodding of their items.

5. Don’t Be Shy. If you see an item that you think you might want, ask as many questions as you feel necessary. The seller will no doubt have a better understanding of the backstory of an item, so you can get all the information you need from them rather than making assumptions.

6. Take Change. The chances are that many of the items on sale will be relatively cheap, so make sure you have plenty of small change with you. A car boot sale is not somewhere you’re likely to find a card machine.

7. Have A Plan. Whether you are going to a car boot sale to find valuable items at a bargain for resale, or whether you are going to get some decorative items for your home, it’s always good to have a plan. If you know what kind of items you’re searching for then you can refine your focus. At the same time, don’t have blinkers on – you never know what you might stumble across unexpectedly.

8. Look Carefully. Some of the more valuable and interesting items may well be hidden away under tables or in boxes. Make sure you’ve had a proper scan of the whole area before walking away so you don’t miss out on something great. Something that the seller thinks is valuable might not be what you consider to be valuable, so always ask ‘is there more?’.

9. Keep Your Eyes on the Prize. Whilst it might be tempting to leave your purchase with the seller for safe-keeping, it’s always better to keep your hands on the item you’ve bought. The seller may decide to leave early, or they could also sell your item to another bidder at a higher price. Even if they give you your money back, you’ve lost the item that you wanted. At the same time, be careful of pickpockets in the crowds when carrying your items around.

10. Enjoy! The most important thing about buying at a car boot is to enjoy yourself. You will always make some good and some bad decisions – so just go with it and enjoy the ride!

Where can I park?

Thatcham Memorial Car Park - 60 spaces, 50p for 2 hours.

Thatcham Memorial Field - Over 100 spaces, FREE (open from 9am but we do not allow cars in when full).

Gilbert Court East - 50 spaces, FREE.

ATS car park - 20 spaces, FREE.

Kingsland Centre Car Park - 200 spaces, FREE.

For more information and maps click here

Our top ten tips for selling

Doing a car boot sale is a great way to clear out your cupboard, de-clutter your home and raise a bit of extra cash.

Car boot sales require a bit of time and effort but they can be fun, and they get you out in the fresh air for a few hours. You may make more selling items on Ebay but don't forget the fees and time it will take to package everything up ready for posting.

We have been involved in car boot sales for the last fifteen years so here are our top tips to make your car boot a success:

  1. Be prepared to get up early. Car boot sales are not for those who enjoy their weekend lie-ins. We are open for sellers from 07.30am, and let buyers in at 08.30am. Hardcore car booters will be there and ready from the crack of dawn, to be close to the toilets/burger van. Please remember ts a residential area so its a bit unfair if they get woken up by car doors and boots opening and closing before 07.30. Hardcore buyers will leave no stone unturned so the whole 'best pitch' thing is actually a myth in our opinion.
  2. Have some help. Taking a helper with you has a few obvious advantages. You can split the seller fee, take a toilet break without leaving your stall unattended, and also browse the other stalls (mind you don’t end up spending more than you make). Two pairs of eyes are also better than one when keeping a look out on your bric-a-brac, especially during the stampede (see below).
  3. Prepared for the stampede . When 08.30am dawns he buyers are let in. They swarm in their masses, descending on your car and rooting through your worldly goods before you’ve even had chance to get them out (which is why we allow time for you to get set up). They can be really intimidating if you’re unprepared. If you’ve ever done a car boot, you’ll know what I mean. For anyone who hasn’t, don’t let the thought of this put you off doing one. Just be prepared. Keep your boot locked while unpacking each box, and watch out for thieves. If you arrive late or need assistance let us know and we will watch your stall but cannot help set up.
  4. Bring change. There’s nothing worse than making a sale and then realising you haven’t got the right change, so have to take less for an item. Come prepared with some bags of pound coins and some notes, someone will want to pay for a 50p item with a £20 note. Keep your large notes separate from the rest so it doesn't go missing when you pull it our of your money belt.
  5. Be prepared with bags. Car boot buyers often aren’t prepared themselves, so come armed with carrier bags.
  6. Be prepared to haggle. It’s not just buyers that need to be determined to haggle. If you think something you’re selling is worth a lot more than the buyer is willing to pay, stand your ground and don’t budge. If they want it that badly, they will be back, and will eventually cough up the full price.
  7. Be prepared for rain. If the forecast is heavy rain we generally postpone, but Britain being Britain, with its unpredictable weather, sometimes the weatherman gets it wrong.
  8. Be prepared to sell anything. What may be junk to you may be a gem to someone else. So even if you think no one will want to buy that old teddy, your old shoes etc, it’s always worth taking everything you’re willing to part with. Whatever you don’t sell can then just be saved for the next car boot, charity-shopped or taken to your nearest recycling centre.
  9. Be prepared not to sell anything. You win some, you lose some. There is no formula of what sells and what doesnt, we have seen plenty of obscure things being taken out by a happy buyer and we have seen things that we think will sell instantly taken back home. Don't feel as if you have to sell everything. People make very silly offers at the end of the day to get a bargain, just because it hasn't sold this time it may sell next time.
  10. Have fun. Car boot sales are a great way of making money but are also very social. Some buyers will whizz pass scanning everything whilst others will stop for a chin wag so be prepared for some great conversations.