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

Self diagnosed eBay addict

I wake up in the morning reach out for my iPhone and here’s what I do…

1) Check my email
2) Check my twitter
3) Check my blog
4) Check my eBay
5) Check my Facebook

For goodness sakes I’m not even joking! I often sit and try to cast my mind back to those days before social networking and online auctions such as eBay bloody existed, I know my life wasn’t boring so why do I now consider it to be just that if I’m unable to check-in to my 5 online hotspots throughout the day?

Yes, Social media is taking over the world and i’m happily clinging on and going for the ride!

Seriously though, I don’t sit for hours tweeting and liking, life won’t allow me. Yes, I’m a mother, I have a family to contend with! Yet I do find myself frequently popping in and out to my online life, modern technology such as the iPhone makes this an easy task to achieve.

Now, if you noticed number four on my list is to check my eBay. Now this much loved online auction site has griped many including myself, only I’m surprised just how long that actually took to happen.

As a lover of shopping its rather strange that I’ve only actively been buying and selling through eBay this year. My friends and everybody else I know seem to have been at it forever and although I’ve always been completely aware of such happenings I had never found myself needing, nor wanting to use it… Well till now!

I think that maybe the sensible side of my brain made sure I stayed away. I’m the kind of person whom is quiet easily drawn in and rather hard to suck back out!

Hands up… I absolutely love that land called eBay!

Now although I have recently sold items on eBay I’ve actually brought a considerable amount more. So, what is it about buying on eBay that I just can’t seem to get enough off?

The fonder of eBay in my opinion is one very clever so & so. It’s simple, we’re not just get the frill associated with shopping we are also getting the buzz of winning! Then there is that aspect of getting a bargain and who in gods name doesn’t like getting one of those.

I have had my fair share but a bargain can only be that if we really need such items in the first place. I’m currently hooked on bidding for dresses and pretty vintage style clothing for my daughter. I’m also always on the hunt for trendy boys wear for little man and the toddler as well as indulging my shoe habit a fair bit of late. But although you’ll often hear me state “You can never have to many pairs of shoes” in all honestly one can and I probably have!

So, what is it I’m checking when I’m reaching for my iPhone at 7am. First thing I need to check is that of my buying list… You know, items i’ve won and items I’m winning! Then I’ll check my watch list and make the early morning decision on wether I want to bid on any of them items. Next up its of to my Selling list, where I’ll check to see how any of my listings are proceeding and maybe share them via my connected social networks.

Now although I’m holding my hands up here and admitting that yes maybe I am a little bit of an eBay addict, I can still say with confidence that items I’m bidding on get a max bid which I stick to. There has been the odd item I’ve battled for but now I use a special technique “Would I buy it right now in a shop for the same price?” this normally does the trick.

As for selling, this is a buzz in itself. It’s great to list a desirable item then kick back and watch the interest and watchers grow. It’s also rather lovely to watch your item ending especially when the price rises beyond what was expected.

With three growing children and my own over flowing wardrobes caused by obsessive shopping trips and hoarding items for donkeys years I have a fair bit of stuff to sell. Unfortunately eBay are only allowing me to list 10 items per month and despite my continuous request for a higher selling allowance and ebays promise to send me a letter as verification of my address they still have failed to send it so I’m stuck. Another problem with selling on ebay is the fact that I never seem to transfer the funds made from my listings back into my bank account via PayPal to withdraw! Why not… Because I use it to buy more!

I’ve been reasonably lucky with my listings and this is mainly due to some great sellers tips passed around by friends here on the net. Here’s a few I’ve been introduced to which have worked well for me!

1) In most cases list items as singles (especially when selling branded clothing and lovely children’s pieces) this also cuts down your postage costs.

2) Don’t start your listing to high as it puts people off.

3) Add photo packs (great for free and reduced insertion days)

4) Be reasonable with P&P and offer a combined postage.

5) Recheck spellings before confirming a listing as you don’t want to be coming up on the listings over at “Fat Fingers”

6) Add pictures from varying angles

7) Don’t list for no less than 10 days ( this means your item gets seen more and end up in many a persons watch list)

8) schedule listings to finish at around 9pm as this is normally a child free time (unless your living in my house)! It’s true though it’s the most least busy hour of a person’s day, unless you work nights or are tucked up in bed.

9) List brand names and picture the labels

10) Reframe from listing a “Buy it now” price (this often makes people reluctant to bid more in the end if the item doesn’t sell before the end time)

11) It does no harm to hit the share button and blast out to your followers on social networks.

I do follow the above and for me it’s been beneficial.

But what about buying on eBay?
I’ve got some awesome buys for a steal, example… TOPSHOP woman’s coat (brand new with tags) original price £75.00 won bid at 99p and the P&P was £3.00, Infant Red LEGO Kickers won bid at £1.04 and the P&P was £2.70 and another great one was a bundle of girls clothing consisting mainly of dresses from next, monsoon and Zara, number of items 13 won bid at £6.00 and p&p 4.00

So… Is there a trick in getting things for monkey nuts?

The TOPSHOP Coat and the Lego Kickers both had typos within the listings title which I found using the “Fat Fingers” app available on iTunes. The clothing bundle consisting of 13 pretty dresses made the mistake of listing within the wrong category as well as having an early hours ending time.

I have found in the short time I have actively been using email that feedback is of great importance. I now read this before biding (unless the item is ending within seconds when I’ve discovered it and I really want it that is). I brought a pair of Adidas women’s trainers for a steal at 99p but the seller took my PayPal and seemingly never sent the item. I’m all for giving people the benefit of the doubt, but when you state, “I’ve sent so out of my hands” when I inform you it hasn’t been delivered. Then tell me on a second occasion, “I don’t care it’s your problem” then I get the sneaky suspicion you never sent it anyway. Yes it’s just 99p with a fivers P&P but it’s beside the point and after several attempts to reason with the seller and opening a case with email I gave her bad feedback.

Feedback helps buyers feel more confident in bidding on your items making you more money. As a stay at home mum and full time carer I just sell the odd item and then use the funds to bid on items I need for the children. But I can sell the money that can be made easily with the help of eBay and it’s something I’d consider come Christmas. If my sellers allowance is increased that is!

I’d love to hear from any eBay pros, please feel free to leave your comments and any useful tips or wise advice within the comment section below.

Below is a picture of a few items I’ve brought and what I’ve paid (yes there are plenty more from where they came from)!

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