Making Money At Car Boot Sales

Money doesn’t grow on trees, but it can be found under them if you look in the right places, and armed with the latest technologies. You see, every year there are hundreds of thousands of pounds completely overlooked by well meaning families having a boot sale. Often, they aren’t even aware of the gold mine they’ve put up for the technologically savvy shopper to capitalize on. And that’s great, because you can make a tidy profit spending your Friday and Saturday mornings cruising the sales instead of sleeping off a night of revelry.

It all starts with the tech.

The tech is your cell phone, and you can use any iPhone or Android phone, so long as you’ve got an Internet connection and the right bar code scanner installed. Our favourite for this is RedLaser, which can be downloaded for Android or iPhone. When you’ve got those tools, you need to head out to any garage sales you can find. What you’ll be doing is looking for any new or unopened box items. It doesn’t really matter what they are, and you can even take note of boxed items that are still open. You’ll be comparing prices on Amazon and eBay for items you scan, and considering the difference in profit you stand to make.

You’re going to want to target neighbourhoods with pensioners first, because they’re least likely to be aware of the value of their goods. They’re also not as likely to question you when you tell them that you’re sending a text to your wife, husband, or child about a particular item you’re interested in. Usually they’re far more aware of the value of their antiques, and will be more worried about their value than a blender, doll house (£2,500), or action figure in a box. They might be right too, occasionally. After that, you can cruise the wealthy neighbourhoods, as they’re more likely to have higher value items, but also probably know a lot more about tech.

Your goal isn’t dealing in antiques.

You want to get unopened items, or at least boxed goods. Old Barbie dolls, collectible action figures, and even vintage blenders will all fetch a decent price online. Books are a hot item too; with a first print Harry Potter currently fetching £499 on eBay. If you can clear an average of £400 profit every weekend, you’re looking at £50 an hour for four hours a morning over two days. Of course, when you first start off, you might not make that much, but you will over time. Once you get good, you’ll be raking in the occasional £400 to £600 a day. All thanks to technology and your scanner, which instantly checks the price of the item on Amazon and eBay, based solely on the bar code.

So, how do you get started?

Run your intelligence on boot sales the night before, and spot any in your area. Target ones with several other sales close by, so you can quickly slip over to another location if you find nothing of value where you currently are. When you spot something of value, you just scan it to find out how much it’s worth on eBay. If it’s something worth taking, then try to negotiate the price down at least 25%. Whenever anyone asks, just tell him or her that you’re checking to see if that’s the item whomever you choose to say it’s for wants. Of course, they will never answer you, so you’ll have to negotiate down the price because you’re not ‘really sure’ it’s what he or she just has to have.

Hot Tips on What to Avoid

  1. Get some sleep. Sales can start as early as 7 in the morning. If you get there late, you missed out. Plus, if you’re lucky, you can hit the 7AM sales, and then zip on over to the one that started at 8AM, and the next one that started at 9AM. If you get three good sales in, you can clear £400 without missing a beat, and more depending on how lucky you are.
  2. If you see small children, you’re wasting your time. They have old toys, broken toys, chewed up dolls, or generally messy things that no one is going to want to buy. They also aren’t going to have any UPC codes you can scan. Though, sometimes you might find a book or two – but you never know when it’s going to be torn up, written in, or helpfully coloured. In most cases, just skip or breeze through yards with kids present.
  3. Big signs usually mean small sales. That’s just how it is. People who advertise a huge sale usually don’t have that much, and even when they do, they’ve advertised so much that there is usually a crowd already there. You’re better off finding sales that aren’t as well advertised, or are a bit off the beaten path. These are the ones where you’re most likely to find gems that are worth reselling.
  4. Look in newspapers first. People who are advertising online, or in places like Craigslist, will always have a computer, and probably a much better idea of what their treasures are worth (meaning, they aren’t going to have any treasures). That doesn’t mean you’ll never find good stuff there. Rather, it means that the old couple who took out an add in the post is much less likely to know what their Harry Potter book or unboxed Barbie doll is worth. They’ll be far more worried about getting top dollar for an old table or vase that you aren’t concerned with, because it isn’t going to have a UPC code.
  5. Don’t worry about getting to all of the sales. You and everyone else looking to profit aren’t going to be able to visit everything all at the same time. Instead, set your targets, and go after them. Be quick, and move on to the next one, just make sure you’re thorough. Missing a gem of a find can cost you a few hundred quid, so pay attention.

A Last Tip

Don’t let everyone you know in on your little secret. Let’s face it, telling your mates how you made an extra £2,000 last month is likely to get them motivated to get out there and start competing with you. That’s not what you want. Better to let everyone know that you’ve gone a bit mad, and like to take very early morning drives. Bring back some jam if anyone asks too many questions.

Paul graduated in 2001 with a degree in Finance. Since then he has gone on to work for several of the UK's most well-known financial institutions.

An avid blogger and a huge football fan, Paul is here to guide you through the ins and outs of personal finance and perhaps save you some money in the process!

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