Many first time sellers choose to come to Battersea and the feedback we receive is excellent. First timers tell us they find Battersea to be friendly and less daunting than other boot sales, mostly due to our calm ‘no queue’ entry system and friendly helpful staff. The opportunity to book a pitch only a week in advance and set up in peace before any buyers are onsite is also helpful to many.
First time sellers at Battersea often tell us what they made – the average we’re told about is £200 – £500, with many taking much more. This is no coincidence. There are other boot sales out there of course, but very few of them get such a high footfall as Battersea.
We’re very often asked if we have any tips for first timers so here are some hints, tips and general information you might find helpful as a first time seller. There’s lots here, but we’ve tried to cover all the things we’re asked most often and the things that people tell us they’re a little nervous about.
Our bookings launch at 8am every Monday to book a pitch for the coming Sunday.
What sells, what doesn’t? Try to bring a wide selection of goods – if you’re sorting out your wardrobe you might as well go through the whole house, including the shed, garage, kids room, kitchen and even your jewellery box and the bathroom! Sellers who make the most money on their first car boot tend to bring a wide selection of unwanted household items including some high priced items such as the odd designer handbag or shoes, jewellery, or furniture.
Here’s a few ideas to get you started…
New and even half used bottles of perfume and other beauty/make-up/bathroom paraphernalia can be surprisingly popular, especially if still in gift boxes.
CDs, DVDs & books won’t make you a fortune. Bring some, just don’t bring a car full. Videos? Harsh, but bin them.
Kitchen equipment: saucepans, baking dishes, crockery, that juicer/breadmaker you’ve never used!
New or even used (but originally expensive) candles sell well. Empty hampers & baskets are very popular.
Those unloved bottles of Chardonnay and unwanted gifts of Champagne on your wine rack will sell (caution; this must be a genuine ‘unwanted personal belongings’ sale – not a car load brought back from Calais!)
Second hand ‘high street’ clothes are ten a penny, so be realistic if you want to sell them – you’re not going to get £7 for a second hand Primark jacket that cost you £15, or £1 for a £3 t-shirt.
Second hand Levi’s, or any jeans will sell. Of course anything ‘vintage’ will fly off the stall!
Got a jewellery box full of unfashionable things you never wear anymore? Gold and silver are currently at their highest price for many years. We have plenty of gold dealers all competing with each other so you’ll get a fair price.
All metal is high priced at the moment so literally ‘any old iron’ will sell – brass & copper, as well as more valuable metals.
Baby clothes are in plentiful supply at boot sales – they’ll sell, but at very low prices, and often in bundles, unless they’re sought after labels.
Small (or large if you can get them in the car/on the roof) pieces of furniture sell really well – book cases, chest of drawers, bedside tables, shelves, cots, buggies, coffeee tables.
Sort out the shed – garden tools sell very well, the old flymo, garden furniture, teracotta pots, even house or garden plants you don’t want anymore.
Old bikes, toys, laptops, phones and electrical goods are good sellers too.
Large toys: dolls houses, dolls prams, kids kitchens, wendy houses & bikes sell very well, especially in the lead up to Christmas – just clean them up.
Duvet covers and sheets you’re fed up with. Cushions, blankets and throws sell well, as do most household essentials.
Everything CAN sell, at the right price. Many people are on the look out for household items and gifts that they can’t afford to buy new.
How much effort you put in to this is up to you. Chuck it all in a box for 50p if that suits you, or run an iron over some of your best items, put them on hangers. A damp cloth wiped over some items makes a huge difference to how they look and can make a sale too. Baby wipes are brilliant for quickly cleaning dusty things.
Higher priced things sell too – we have regular dealers who specialise in most things: designer clothes, gold/silver, art, phones, watches, costume jewellery, computers, handbags, electrical goods, trainers, jeans, furniture, general collectables, and of course, antiques. So generally speaking you’ll get fair prices as long as you’re realistic.
Pre Christmas boot sales – September onwards many people are on the look out for anything that could be given as a gift. So if you’re sorting out the kids toys make sure all the bits are there, clean up that old bike (baby wipes are great for quick clean ups)
Bagged up bundles of Lego, Duplo or playmobil are great sellers.
Sort out the gift sets, beauty hampers and candles you were given last year and never used. Give everything a wipe over so it looks fresh – this will help you get a decent price.
Old record players, music systems, speakers, large saucepans, extra sets of plates etc are all sought after in the run up to Christmas. People are often on the look out for extra’s to tie them over having guests to stay too – fold up chairs, air beds, extra bedding, duvets, fold away beds etc.
We can’t advise individually on pricing (though we’re often asked to) As a general rule of thumb – be realistic – you will not get half the retail price for anything at all. If what you’re selling is particularly high end, or brand new with tags/box/packaging you might just about reach half price, but it’s unlikely. Second hand clothes do not fetch high prices – unless as above, they’re designer and in very good condition. You don’t need to sell everything for 50p though. Try to think what you’d be happy to pay for something second hand, what would be a bargain to you?
Looking at online auction sites to find prices is unrealistic and unreliable – for every Primark dress that sold for £5 there are 2000 more Primark dresses that didn’t sell at all, even at 99p. Don’t be fooled in to believing you could make more online – it’s actually very unlikley and is a hell of a lot more work, time consuming, costly and risky!
Try some prices out. Early buyers/dealers have a good idea of going prices. If several people walk away or make you a much lower offer, maybe you’re a little high. You don’t need to panic sell though – there are plenty more buyers coming in at 1.30pm. Early buyers will often come back to make another offer.
Pricing is a gamble – ask a low price and you’ll sell it for sure. Ask a higher price and there’s a chance you might not sell it at all. Keep in the front of your mind that you want rid of all this stuff!
Gold or silver jewellery. If you’re not sure just ask a dealer to make you an offer. Once you have an offer, if you’re not sure whether to accept it, just refuse and then use it as a guide. There are plenty of gold dealers in competition at Battersea so they tend to be pretty fair.
Some people don’t like the fact that a ‘dealer’ might sell something on and make a profit. So what?! You want to sell it, so don’t overly concern yourself with what happens to it afterwards. It makes no difference to you as long as you feel happy with the price you got. Our sellers take excellent and often fast money from dealers if they have the right attitude towards the sale.
Clothes. Sometimes a handfull of well displayed clothes will sell better and make more money than boxes and boxes of them scattered across a table or on the ground. When buyers see clothes not displayed nicely they automatically expect them to be cheap – really cheap, give away bundles of 3 for £1 or even less. If you want nice prices, make your things look like they’re worth it. 2nd hand high street clothes (even in excellent condition) do not fetch high prices and we advise against bringing only clothes – try to bring a variety of stuff to sell.
You don’t have to use price stickers but I believe they help. Some regular sellers always price, others never price, so it’s not essential. We all buy things we don’t really need just because they have a cheap price ticket on them don’t we? The same principle applies at car boot sales, so I always advise pricing if you have time and can be bothered. Even if you don’t price everything, do have a think and try to get an idea in mind of how much you intend to ask.
ON THE DAY
First of all, if you need anything our staff are around and you can ask them for help. They will guide you when parking – you’re not left alone to park on arrival. Occasionally cars need to reverse or manoeuvre into a tight space. Just listen to our steward’s guidance – they’ve been doing this for a long time, they know you can’t see out of your rear view mirror and they will guide you safely if you listen to them. That’s their job!
You don’t need to get there early! Who wants to get up early on a Sunday morning? We don’t! that’s why we operate a civilised afternoon boot sale with a unique time slotted entry system. Just roll up at your time slot, you’ll be onsite and setting up within minutes. No queues, no risk, no wasted time and money, no sitting in a queue with your engine running!
Bring a float, it’ll help you make early sales. About £20-£30 in a combination of £1 coins and £5 notes should be enough. No need to bring small change unless you plan to sell lots of things for less than £1.
Bring a bumbag or cross body bag – you really need to keep your money on you. It’s easy to become distracted and put money down on the table or forget to lock the car. We park cars close together to stop buyers from walking in between them but your takings are not safe on your car seat!
Bring plenty of old carrier bags, buyers do expect a bag. Tie a bag to your wing mirror to contain your own rubbish (and cigarette ends too) please.
If you’re bringing a table, load it into the car last so you can access it on arrival without emptying everything out to get to it. We have some table hire available at the gate if you prefer to hire a table.
If the weather is uncertain try to bring a clear plastic sheet. You can buy them in B&Q/Homebase or we sell large plastic sheets for £2 at the gate. You can cover over in a shower but buyers can still see your goods so you will still take money.
Have some prices in mind. You don’t have to price everything but try to have a think about what you’re going to ask. You may lose early sales if you’re very indecisive.
Like everywhere in London, we sadly have our fair share of thieves. Be aware.
Try not to get out more stuff than you can keep an eye on and keep very valuable items together and right at the back of your table where you can keep a close eye.
Displaying jewellery? tie it all together on a long loop of ribbon or string and hold onto it. Dealers will literally swarm over jewellery! If you tie it together everyone can look, but it will (hopefully) stop any light fingered person wandering off with something.
Selling shoes? Get one out, leave the other in the car. No one will steal one shoe.
If you’ve got lots of small things around the same price put them all in a box or basket with one price on – ‘Everything £1’ for example.
Expensive handbags or large items? Put them on the roof of your car. They can be clearly seen but if anyone wants a closer look you can keep a close eye.
If a buyer wants to take something away to try it on/show someone else, ask them to pay for it and make an agreement to give them a refund if they return it within 15 minutes. Do not let anyone walk off with your goods without paying, regardless of the reason (to try it on, show someone else, get their money etc) – it sounds obvious but a surprising number of people do this and lose items in the process.
We don’t advise you save or hold things for people who say they will come back later, unless they’re prepared to pay you straight away. It’s a common ploy and often the buyer never returns, or returns at the end of the day (when you could have sold the item several times over) and starts haggling on the price. If they really want it, they’ll pay you for it straight away. Then you can keep it in your car until they want to collect it.
Please be very careful when accepting £20 or £50 notes, especially for a cheap item. Check all notes for the silver strip and watermark. If you are at all unsure just ask the buyer if they’ll come with you to the gate where our staff will be more than happy to test a note for you. An honest person shouldn’t be offended by this. We also sell fake note tester pens at the gate for £2 each – a very worthwhile investment.
Before you book a pitch, please do read our terms. Despite our best attempts to encourage customers to read the terms some people still tick the box but don’t actually read them. It really is in your best interests to know about our cancellation policy etc.
Don’t forget your stuff belongs to you! Don’t be bullied into getting it out of the car before you’re ready or accepting a much lower price than you wanted for it. Equally, remember you’re there to sell! If you suddenly become sentimental about things or unrealistic with your prices you’ll be disappointed. We often have sellers who sell out completely – but they stay lighthearted and flexible and stick to their aim which is to get rid of clutter and make a few quid, not the other way around!
On arrival, cars on standard time slots can often be overwhelmed and surrounded by buyers. Don’t panic! It is your choice whether to get your goods out straight away or not. Don’t feel you need to rush to get out everything that the buyers are asking for, or are trying to grab from your boot. If you do that you will most likely ‘lose’ some items in the scrum. Of course, if you feel you can handle it, go for it. But if you’re feeling overwhelmed simply say “I’m not setting up yet, please come back”. They will come back! If this prospect makes you feel very nervous then we’d recommend you book one of our premium pitches. This will give you some time set up your pitch before any buyers are onsite.
We don’t want to come over all ‘health & safety’ but… If it’s a sunny day bring a hat or brolly, water and sunblock. Unloading a car and then standing on one spot in full sun for 5 or 6 hours is much more tiring than many people imagine!
If it’s winter, layer up. Trust me, one thick jumper and a coat is not going to keep you warm enough while you’re standing still for hours on a freezing day! Several thin layers and a scarf under a coat will be much more effective. Wear boots or bring some cardboard to stand on.
Most important of all… have fun! You’ll meet some real characters at Battersea – our customers come from far and wide. Most sellers leave at the end of the day feeling exhausted but in good spirits having had a good laugh. They always say they had fun, made some decent cash and most importantly got rid of all that ‘stuff’! Chat to the stall holders next to you – it’s handy to have someone to keep an eye out for you if you’re alone and need to pop to the loo or to get a cup of tea. You’ll find our staff are friendly and helpful and the vast majority of stall holders and customers are friendly too.
I hope this has been helpful. If you’re one of those people who is always talking about doing a boot sale and thinking about doing a boot sale and talking about the fact that you’re thinking about doing a boot sale – go for it! In 18 years operating Battersea boot sale I’ve never heard anyone say they regret it, but most people say they wish they’d done it years ago and will come back every 6 months to keep their life a bit more clutter free.
Make loads of cash, and enjoy!
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