5 tips on finding that car boot loot

Gold old British car boot sale | Growing SpacesA few weekends back we headed out to a local car boot sale and it reminded me how much I love them. It got us out of the house and into the fresh air, we had lots of fun mooching around, the twins got to practice a bit of maths, and I came home with some treasures so it was definitely a winning activity for our Sunday morning.

Car boot treasure hunting | Growing SpacesRemarkably, after seeing me share my buys on Facebook, a lovely friend admitted that she had never been to a car boot sale! I have lost track of how many I’ve visited (it’s many), and I have memories of going with my family (both to buy and to sell) from a very early age. I haven’t sold at a car boot for a long time (I can never get over that terror of arriving when it’s still dark, and people looting through your boot before you’ve even managed to set up your table), but I thought I’d share my five basic tips for buying at car boot sales..

  1. Find details of your nearest car boot sale in your local paper, or look out for posters or banners advertising upcoming events in your area. I’ve also used this website to scope out sales before, but it’s wise to phone or email before heading out just to double check they’re still running.
  2. Get there early to nab the best bargains. They normally start around 7am (ouch!) – I normally aim to rock up at 8am at the latest if we can. There’s usually a van selling coffee to give you a caffeine hit when you arrive. This way you should also have time to do two circuits in case buyers have pulled out some new stock since your first visit.
  3. I’ve yet to see a cash machine at a car boot sale, so bringing cash with you is essential – and small change is best. It may sound obvious but it’s best to only bring as much money as you want to spend, as it’s easy to get carried away and go way over-budget.
  4. Take bags with you. Some sellers may offer you a plastic bag, but you’re far better off with something more sturdy so you can carry heavier items. You could even take a trolley if you have one. As usual, it’s always while to carry a stash of drinks and snacks to appease children when they start to lose interest.
  5. Give kids a set amount of spending money and stick to it to avoid constant nagging. I try to guide the twins when they’re deciding what to buy but ultimately it’s up to them. They have different approaches – Fonz likes the impulse purchase (a boy after my own heart), but Ez thinks about it much more carefully and will often leave something and go back to check if it’s still there later. Some stalls do lucky dips and this always goes down well with my two, although what you get is obviously a bit more hit and miss!

Car boot loot | Growing Spaces

Car boot ceramics | Growing SpacesThe above shots show my purchases from our most recent car boot jaunt. I always have an idea of the sort of thing I’m looking for (this time I knew I wanted vintage plates to use under my indoor plant pots, and stoneware jars), but I still keep my eyes peeled for anything unusual. The little vintage suitcase was a bargain at £1, and was perfect to carry our other purchases in, as I’d forgotten to bring my own bag (I obviously didn’t read my own tips). My best ever car boot buy was a vintage printers tray for a fiver – considerably less than the asking price in most junk shops. I’d been after one for ages but never expected to find one at a car boot sale and it now has pride-of-place in our hallway.



  1. June 24, 2015 / 6:21 am

    I would love one of those printer’s trays for Kate’s room. She loved yours when we came to visit. It is so long since I went to the car boot, although I am not sure why – we are always up really early!

    • Heather Young June 29, 2015 / 10:09 am

      Yes, make the most of your early starts and head out – I bet there are some brilliant ones around you x

  2. June 24, 2015 / 11:39 am

    Top tips that I use all the time as I’m a bit of a booter addict! I get a bit giddy when I go it’s like the feeling you used to get on Christmas morning when you were little. If Ruby comes with me the bribe of being able to eat a tray of chips at 9 in the morning wins her over every time! Jane x

    • Heather Young June 29, 2015 / 10:10 am

      Yes, I totally get the same feeling! I will have to try the chips at 9am bribe next time..

  3. Make do mum
    June 24, 2015 / 8:06 pm

    Great finds, £5 for a printers tray is a bargain. I love boot sales but I find it impossible with the kids so we try to pick ones that have a playground or big field so my OH can occupy them while I have a rummage.

    • Heather Young June 29, 2015 / 10:11 am

      I found that they were ok for the first half hour and then they did get bored. We found a stall that had a toy lucky dip and the promise of going back there kept my two going in the end!

    • Heather Young June 29, 2015 / 10:11 am

      Make the most of them while the weather’s warm!

  4. June 28, 2015 / 7:46 pm

    Oh how I love a good old car boot, you found some great treasures there! It’s also all about the people watching and the nostalgic smell of burger and chips 😉 I must get down my local one soon! Katie x

    • Heather Young June 29, 2015 / 10:11 am

      Oh yes, the people watching is awesome, isn’t it?

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