A 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.
Remarkably, 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..
- 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.
- 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.
- 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.
- 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.
- 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!
The 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.