Top Tips – How Too Turn a Bootfair Into A profitable Business

The sun has been shining, what a perfect excuse to load up the car and head for the bootsale.

Earning extra funds while enjoying the sun’s rays makes selling at bootfairs most enjoyable.

The spring and summer months are popular ones when it comes to bootfairs (after all no, one likes to get up and sell at 5am on a cold winters morning). Both those looking for a bargain and those hoping to make some extra money are all out in force.

For me and my close friend, selling at bootfairs during the months of spring and summer has become something of a business. Last year we started clearing our homes of unwanted items and once we had done so we moved on to buying and selling in the hope of making a profit. We have done the same this year and we are on our 5th week with plans to pitch our stall over at Battersea bootfair this coming Sunday.

I love vintage items and I’m forever picking up a bargain, of course this has become a big feature on the stall. We currently have some stunning items of vintage costume jewellery as well as modern and vintage sterling silver. This year we have also been busy crafting homemade items from homemade bath treats to handmade jewellery. I’ve also been spending lots of time refurbishing items of furniture into distressed shabby chic pieces, ones that I plan to try and sell and promote at the bootfairs we attend over the summer.

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This year we also plan on selling at craft fairs and best of all… festivals. I’m planning on creating a page to share all this so please feel free to visit it once published.

So… I’ve learnt a lot surrounding bootfairs, selling and all that come’s with it. I wanted to share with you some tips to make your experience the very best, while ensuring you come home with an overflowing money belt as opposed to that of a car boot.

1) If you are selling your unwanted items as a one off, then to get the very best out of your experience, take time to checkout local papers detailing local sales and selling prices. Try to pick an established sale that already has regular visitors, the kind that come out to shop rain or shine.

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Remember some bootsales require you to book to ensure a space. Call early to avoid disappointment.

2) This is a great tip for those who plan to sell on a regular basis! Before selling at new fairs, attend as a buyer and get a feel for the way things work. Don’t be shy, ask sellers if they recommend the sale, and any tips they may have for new sellers attending the bootsale.

3) Arrive early giving yourself time to set up your stall. It can be most stressful having loads of people try and rummage through your bags and boxes of goods as you unload it from the car. They are like scavengers as they see your car approaching they can be seen stood around ready to pounce on you’re stock. As for the above reasons, Its always best to set your stall up early, before that of buyers are let loose. However, its not only buyers who pounce when you arrive. Other sellers and traders are as bad with some being far worse. Be firm and tell them to back off. This is the most likely time you find you have had stuff stolen so stand your ground, chasing them off like mice if need be.

4) Use sites like eBay to bag bargains. I’ve sold lots of items I’ve brought from eBay at bootsales, making a really nice profit too! Look for listings with words misspelt using a site like fat fingers. These items are not often discovered because of the poor spelling, which means those looking for such items miss them all together… Example, those looking for ‘Adidas’ trainers may miss a listing because the seller has listed the trainers with a typo. The word is spelt ‘Adiddas’ as opposed to that above. This is a great example as its a word often misspelt on eBay meaning I myself have bagged one or two pairs of adidas trainers at a steal.

Also check for listings placed in the wrong category. Ive bagged some lovely pieces on eBay. The seller has listed an item when they have no clue of its true value. Vintage bone china is an excellent example of this and we sell lots at both bootfairs and vintage fairs.

5) Don’t assume that just because your selling at a bootfair it means you have to practically give your items away. Seriously, what you charge for an item has a lot to do with where it is you are selling your items rather than its true value. Seller fees are normally anything from £7 upto £30 plus, with some sales being more upmarket then others. We have some truly stunning jewellery and vintage items. We also have lots of designer items, leather bags, shoes & makeup, refurbished goods such as vintage furniture and handmade items. To sell these items at just any sale would be a waste! For items such as these, you need to go to the right sale, one that is known for its high standard of goods, otherwise you may as well sell at specialised sales. As mentioned we are setting up at Battersea this Sunday and being in a london hotspot means the fees are on the higher scale. Nonetheless, its always busy, the standard of goods on offer are excellent and buyers are there to spend money. I’ve never sold here before but have visited as a buyer countless times and having spoken to regular sellers, I fell confident about doing so.

6) presentation is everything. Whether your selling at a local church or a more upmarket location presentation is key. Most bootfair goers love a rummage though some would rather trail through clothes rails. Try to keep all happy by doing a bit of both. We have a huge box with our cheaper items in allowing the buyer a good rummage. We also have a large rail with lots of different display areas. The one below was made by my friend for our stall. She used poles from an old rusty clothes rail that she extended with old bunk bed poles from my daughter bed…. Groovy arh.

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7) Smile… A smile goes a long way. I hate looking on a stall that belongs to a miserable sour faced stall holder. It puts me off buying anything and I just can’t wait to walk away. I always say hi to buyers and offer them assistance if they need it. You can often spot those who love a bit of a chatter and I’m always happy to participate. Buyers need to feel comfortable buying from you, so just remember to wear your huge fat cheesy grins on sale days.

8) Take notes at the different sales attended. List what you sell and how much. This will later provide you with statistics when deciding on any regular sales you want to sell at regularly. I find that at certain bootfairs we sell lots of jewellery, yet at another we sell very little but sell more vintage bric a brac. After the second or third time selling at this particular fair I am then better able to decided what items to take. This means I’m able to take more of what sells, therefore coming home with an empty car (excluding any bargains I’ve grabbed).

9) Try not to over indulge on days that your selling. I remember one week we spent all the takings before we had packed away. Ok some of these items provided us with a lovely profit the following week but left us feeling a little gutted on the way home.

10) If you’re planning on selling regularly then establish what bootsales suit you as a seller best. Book pitches early and see if the organiser will offer reduce rates for long term pitch fees. Make sure your buyers then know your there weekly. If something doesn’t work etc… Tell them to pop along and see you next week. This is the way to build trustful relationships with your buyers which will often become regulars as a result.

10) Get yourself some business cards and If possible a website/blog. Because I’m really going for it when it comes to refurbishing furniture into shabby chic pieces I want to ensure everyone knows. I love working with chalk paints and Decopatch and plan to promote this throughout the summer. I’ve even started painting furniture that belongs to others, which often involves removal of furniture, a week to work on it, before finally returning it in its new shabby form. I’m hoping that by selling smaller items of furniture done by myself with the addition of some business cards, it will help spread the word and push me in the correct direction.

11) Get noticed… When selling, especially at festivals, we like to give costumers a focal point ensuring they can find us every time. With such success from this, we have started to use this same idea when selling at large bootfairs. My friend will attach the largest most colourful flag we have to the car to ensure we are spotted for miles. The flag will ensure we are discoverable and easy to locate on future visits. What’s more its used as an ideal meeting point between friends and you can almost always guarantee that those using our flag as a meeting point, will then often find themselves having a look about at what we have on offer while waiting for their friends and then also have a little look about. This is one simple but extremely effective idea that really does work.

12) For certain sales, especially the more upmarket, vintage type fairs, its worth pricing your best pieces at home. We use tiny string tags for jewellery detailing both the price, age and specific design details such as gold, silver, kt, stone, size, etc. We tend to price up items such as makeup a little differently, we have a number of baskets filled with makeup and beauty products, each Basket has a set price displayed for all that’s in it. We also often allow costumers to choose two items of clothing for a tiny £1-£2 fee. This is especially good when you find that you still have certain articles hanging around a month later. A push towards the bargain basket is often all it requires to sell.

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13) Items with Value – Jewellery is a great example for this tip…. Its best to display jewellery in a way that makes it easier for you to keep a watchful eye over it and far less easy for thefts to target. Lots of gold or silver jewellery should be displayed be hide glass. If buyers ask for a closer look you simply unlock the potable cabinet and hand it to them. this way you have full control over items and are not distracted as others grab at jewellery. its so easy to be distracted by one buyer as another loads his pockets. of course its far harder to steal a cabinet full of jewellery without being noticed.

14) To have the best chance of selling your jewellery try to offer lots of information on the piece. If you happen to state a piece is vintage then try and back it up with a date. Research all article to unearth any online prices to gain an idea of what to sell each piece for. If the piece is available with its original box or packaging then let it be known… this can make a huge difference to some buyers, especially collectors or those who want pieces to maintain value.

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15) If selling rings its defiantly worth bringing along a ring sizer. This means no buyers claiming the ring has become stuck on their finger (seriously I’ve had this happen once). If sizes are clearly displayed on ring tag then their will be no reason to remove from under glass just for fitting purposes, therefore making selling less worrisome.

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Also as well as that of the above, you may want to provide potential buyers of jewellery the opportunity to see any stamps and hallmarks through a jewellers loop. A loop is a fantastic tool for anyone who buys and sells jewellery but not everyone can easily get the hang off using such a tool. For those few, provide them with the next best thing… a strong magnifying glass! Your buyer is more assured that they are buying good jewellery and will be much more inclined to visit you again when they return.

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16) If items are handmade by yourself and are therefore one offs then don’t be shy to let it be known. Add small tags stating the product is unique, handmade and signed by yourself. I myself like buying items when I know that it has been made by hand. No two pieces are the same which for me makes such items more desirable. Remember to always pop a business card into the bag with the byers items they have purchased. Cards should display contact details and a site where more of your work is easily accessed.

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17) If you are asked about the price of an item that your selling, Always ask higher than you would actually expect to sell it for. The buyer is always more than likely going to haggle you down to a lower price and this will then hopeful be the price that you actually wanted to take. The buyer is proud to have haggled themselves a bargain and your not left feeling a little robbed but actually pleased with the final price thats been paid.

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18) Make sure you arrive with plenty of change. Its not fun when first thing in the morning buyers are waving tenners under your nose and you can’t change it. Buyers may then ask if you’ll hold the item till later on in the sale when they will return with change, however many don’t, and you’ve lost a sale, and possibly interest from other buyers as a result of holding it back. You can’t complain, I guess they intend to return but discover they no longer have funds having spent so much elsewhere or they actually totally forget. We always visit the post office/bank the day before the sale and change up at least £30 to avoid losing sales. Note, I also always unsure I have change when visiting as a buyer who attends early. I don’t want to lose out on an item due to lack of change (some sellers won’t save it but instead sell it to whoever has the right money).

19) If selling on a weekly basis its worth taking along some money to grab a few bargains for your stall. I say take some money as to avoid spending the takings, as I’ve already mentioned once or twice, this situation can become confusing and a little disheartening when discovering you’ve spent most your earnings before you’ve even packed up the car. Sellers can visit fellow stall holders before the sale is opened to the public. This allows you first refusal. I’ve grabbed some fantastic bargains this way, especially when buying from one off sellers who just want to clear their tables avoiding being left with anything once the sale has come to an end. I will then either sell the item at a later time or place it on my table right away. I then sell for a profit anything over a pound more is usually great, though I’ve often done amazingly, especially given I’ll only buy items When i have an indication of its value.

20) Remember, you will need to charge varying prices based on the location of the bootsale. We did one in Kent recently and found that at first we struggled as most buyers saw our prices as that of “London Prices” despite any value the items had. I’ve found that in outer city towns and villages, prices need to be lowered slightly.

21) If you plan to do a weekly bootsale throughout the spring and summer then be sure to get yourself a good schedule. Having a permanent pitch at one or two sales is ideal. Buyers will then visit more than once and maybe even tell their friends.

22) Share a few of the items you have for your next sale online with your friends and followers on social network sites like twitter and instagram. This gives everyone a taste of what you’ll be selling and those who can’t make it to a sale can contact you with any possible offers. You can then take payment via PayPal.

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23) If you’ve collected lots of stock then keep sales ticking over while lightening the load by selling some select items via eBay. Certain things will fetch more on eBay so be sure to select the right items to list.

24) If paying for a more expensive pitch, ensure your stock is of a higher standard. Just say your planing on selling at somewhere like pimlico or again Battersea, selling fees could be up to £30 or possibly even more, meaning you’ll need to make this sum back before you even go into profit.

25) At the type of bootsales I’ve mentioned above, I’ve made a little list of items that I’ve found sell well. Remember, sellers fees are higher but buyers pay more for good quality goods.
Vintage items – Pretty items such as crystal vases, silver tea services and vanity items…
Retro 80’s & 90’s – whether its lucky trolls or retro teapots these all do well.
Designer items – Its at these sales you can easily sell both modern and vintage designers bags, shoes and clothing.
Jewellery – both precious metals such as gold and silver are hot buys as are vintage pieces such as crystal bracelets, clip on earrings and brooches.
Handmade – unique and one offs are great sellers. These include handmade beauty products, jewellery and hand painted items
Watches – both modern and vintage watches do well. We even sell a lot of broken watches and pieces as scrap, especially those what are sought after brands
Vintage refurbishments – I always try to take some pretty refurbs with me to these sales. Good manageable items are things like chairs, side tables and bedside drawers.This also helps in drumming up interest when it comes to selling your refurbished vintage furniture online or working on other custom pieces.

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26) Now this may sound some what cheap and if anything a tad trampy but watch out for free items during packing up time. So many one off sellers who only want to declutter their homes just cannot face reloading the car with items they didn’t sell. Many leave beautiful and very sellable items on the ground where their stall had once stood. They simply just speed off leaving behind their treasures. Such items could do incredible well on your next sale! I love finding old furniture and bits suitable for refurbishing. So, my advice is… If it fits in the car, then to hell with it, grab it otherwise somebody else will.

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27) Make use of the resources at hand. Using the car has a display rail always gets items of clothing noticed and almost always sold.

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28) Lastly… Try to sell items suited to the current climate. Selling thick jumpers and long wool coats in the summer months doesn’t usually result in high sales. Many people at bootfairs don’t even want to think about the prospect of colder whether, therefore avoiding all associated with it (regardless of style, brand and pricing).

So, that’s it! Any tips of your own worth sharing, then feel free to comment.

If your in london this coming Sunday then please pop by the Battersea bootfair and say hi. Can’t attend but Interested in any items you have seen through here, twitter, Facebook or instagram, then feel free to email me at clairelouise.tss@gmail.com where I’d be pleased to help

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