Isabella & carboot 052

We first became aware of car boot sales in the 1980s. They took off with a bang and you had to pay in advance to reserve a space in a field.

There was no refund if the weather was bad.

Since then, a lot have started and failed. But some have settled down into a very successful regular routine.

Many farmers have made an income out of them instead of struggling along running failing farms.

Car boot sales are like huge wheels, with everything being recycled, often several times in one day!

First come the dealers, who are often in a rush as they’re either dashing off to another boot sale, returning to their own pitch, or going to work.

Most of them are regular, hard-working people. If you’re in doubt about the value of one of your items, they will give you good advice.

But do beware of the rogues. They’ll try to get in your car while you’re unloading.

Keep the far side of your vehicle locked!

And if someone talks to you at one end of your stall, keep an eye on the other end as they may be a decoy.

Right, let’s start at the beginning.Isabella & carboot 053

We’ve just been having a ruthless clearout. We had far too much stuff in our house.

If you haven’t used or worn something for two years, get rid of it!

Spend some time at home, packing things into boxes and deciding what price you expect to get.

Don’t make the boxes too heavy!

Remember, whatever price you write on an item, you will sell it for less as everyone likes a bargain, so ask more than you expect to get.

Clothes are the hardest work. People rummage through them and they fall on the ground. (The clothes, not the people!) And they get screwed up if you pack them away for another boot sale.

Clothes hangers have a mind of their own and get tangled up when you’re not looking!

There are two ways to sell clothes; either put a waterproof groundsheet down and just throw them in a pile, then write a big sign saying Everything 50p. Or hang them up on a rail so that you can charge a bit more.

But remember that the wind can gust across an open field and the rail will probably blow over!

Take several tables. We used old doors and made some trestles out of old wood to hold them up.

Tablecloths or even sheets make a difference to the appearance of your stall. And they’re useful to store things under the tables.Isabella & carboot 054

Books are best placed on the table as some of your customers will be old, and unable to bend down for long to look through them.

My friend’s motto is, If they touch it, they’ll buy it.

If they show an interest, you may be better off accepting a much lower price for something, rather than being stuck with it and having to unload it again when you get home.

Do know what you intend to charge and price labels are a good idea, even though it takes a lot of time to mark everything. But a lot of people don’t like to ask the price. And there’s nothing more off-putting than asking and then getting the reply, ‘Oh, um, I hoped to get a fiver for it. It must be worth that, I think.’

It was worth a lot more originally, but it isn’t any more. Get rid of it!

You might wander round and find one of your objects displayed on a stall at a higher price. Don’t worry about it. Dealers often buy from each other and then re-sell it.

Again, it doesn’t mean that they expect to get the price they’re asking for it.

They probably regularly sell at boot sales. You’re having a clearout and trying to get rid of everything!

There’s usually a catering van there, but you’re going there to make money. And we always seem to get absolutely ravenous after an early start, then standing in the fresh air. So take a picnic, a flask and some water with you. And don’t forget the wet wipes and some kitchen towel for various uses.

Make sure that you’re dressed for the weather, and take plenty of extra clothes. It will probably be cold and damp underfoot at first, but it might turn hot later. And of course, it might suddenly rain!

As one young foreign lad once said to me, ‘In your country you get three weathers in one day!’

There’s a lot of psychology in sales. Study the surrounding stalls.

Where are the public congregating?Isabella & carboot 051

They might be ignoring a neat, tidy stall and all be gathering round what looks like a pile of junk. Why? If I could answer that question, I’d be a rich lady!

Go out to the front from time to time and take a look at your own stall. If one object is being ignored, move it!

People seem to have blind spots. I’ve noticed a lot that the public walks in a circle. They seem to cut off the corners, so don’t get a corner stall!

Every year we say, Never again! But we still seem to find unwanted, unused stuff in our house. And once we actually get to the boot sale and get our stall set up, I have to admit that I really enjoy it – weather permitting!