So it turns out Bernie Ecclestone is a part time bargain hunter…
He may be a billionaire but, according to this article in the Daily Mail, the 81-year-old Formula One magnate and his 32-year-old fiancée, Fabiana Flosi, were “spotted bargain-hunting at the Lots Road house clearance auctions in Fulham just recently.”
Flosi may have given up her job with Hungarian business man Rohonyi Tamas after meeting Ecclestone but it’s unlikely the couple are having money problems. In fact, Lots Road Auctions isn’t exactly cheap, with items advertised on its website for thousands of pounds.
But house clearance sales can be good places for picking up bargains to either keep or sell at the car boot. In 2010 a family found a £43m Chinese vase at a house clearance in Ruislip.
- For house clearance sales coming up in London, check out this page on Gumtree.
An unexpectedly large household bill through the letterbox can be a nasty surprise when you’re on a tight budget. You have days to find the money, so a trip to the car boot can be the perfect quick fix, as well as a chance to finally deal with your home’s clutter.
Housemates Kate Birch and Toni Cotton, 27-year-old teachers from Leeds, found themselves in this situation when the gas and electric bill arrived after the cold winter.
Luckily for them, they were able to head to a local car boot in Otley, West Yorkshire, to sell their unwanted items. Kate tells carbooted about her first ever trip to a car boot, and how the pair came away nearly £300 richer!
Why did you decide to go to a car boot to make money?
We went to a car boot because using eBay seemed a bit too much like hard work to list and photograph all our items. I wasn’t expecting to get much for my bag of clothes so thought it wouldn’t be worthwhile with the costs of postage and packaging. Also, with our working hours and commutes to school, making trips to the post office just wasn’t going to be convenient.
Why did you choose the Otley car boot sale?
We chose the Otley Sale purely because it started at midday and we weren’t dedicated enough to get up at the crack of dawn! It turned out to be a good choice – there were lots of people buying and selling and it was a sunny day so even more turned out. It was only £12 per car and we didn’t need to pre-book a pitch either. Toni made over £200 and I made £70 so we still made a good profit.
What did you have to do when you arrived on the day?
We got a great spot because my boyfriend was driving and didn’t realise that the last to arrive were supposed to go to the other end of the site – he charmed a granny who let him have her granddaughter’s usual spot as she wasn’t going that day! We arrived at 11.30am, but regular sellers had been there setting up since 10am. We borrowed a pasting table to act as our stall, and Toni brought along a portable clothes rail to make it easier for buyers to browse.
What was it like once the gates were open for buyers to come in?
The main items on sale were clothes, toys and household items and it was a pretty friendly atmosphere. People were generally interested only if things were really cheap – say £1 for a top or £2 for a pair of jeans – but I’m sure more specialist items might have sold for more.
If you’re just looking for a big clear out of stuff you genuinely don’t need any more then it’s well worth making the trip to your local sale – I’m never planning on going skiing again so I happily waved goodbye to my ski goggles for a couple of quid. It was the sheer volume of clothes that made Toni her £200. I sold some books, jewellery and unopened Paperchase stationery for £3 a time – so for good quality and well-known brands you can get a bit more.
Did you have trouble selling any of your items?
The only thing I didn’t sell was a beaded top I’d bought for £45 and worn once. People wouldn’t pay £10 for it because they wanted everything dirt cheap. One or two sellers helpfully suggested that I sold it on eBay instead – because they knew, in general, the car booters aren’t after clothes that cost too much. I think it’ll be worth auctioning this one item online because it’s still stylish.
What tips would you offer people considering a car boot sale to make a quick bit of cash?
For first timers, I’d say go for it! We were lucky that it was a nice day and had three of us to look after our stall. As you have to pay to get in, you need to make sure you have the volume to make it worthwhile.
After two good hours of selling, it tailed off, so make sure you’re ready to go when the gates open as that’s your best chance of a sale.
Other people will buy your stuff to go on and sell it themselves. Toni sold £70 worth of clothes to a woman in the last 5 minutes – clearly intending to sell it the week after. But Toni needed wardrobe space and cash, so it didn’t really matter.
Will you go again?
Definitely! I’m a fair weather car booter – you wouldn’t catch me braving it in the winter. But the old lady next to us said that they go every week, come rain or shine, to raise cash for a local charity. It did take a lot of will power not to have a good look around the sale so I wasn’t tempted to sell my junk then go home with other people’s, though!
Kate and Toni sold their unwanted goods at:
Wharfedale Farmers Auction Mart
It’s open every Sunday from 12-4pm for buyers. Sellers can arrive from 10am. It’s £12 for a car, £14 for a van, and £2 for a trailer.
On BBC One’s The Apprentice, the task this week was to buy second hand furniture and sell it in Brick Lane. Or as one succinct young hopeful put it: “get as much crap as we can and sell it for next to nothing.”
Carbooted regulars will not need to be told that car boots are a haven for anyone looking for vintage and collectible furniture. So surely, only a bunch of idiots could fail to find anything worth buying?
“Here we are – an enormous car boot sale full of everything you can imagine,” says Alan Sugar’s aide, Nick Hewer, following one team around a car boot sale as they hunt out bargains. All the contestants have to do is pick up some choice pieces and take them Brick Lane “home to the young trendy with the gelled hair,” says Hewer.
But soon Hewer is despairing of their inability to choose anything at all. “They’ve only bought a few items – it’s nuts!” he says.
Later on Jade Adam and Steven are seen storming round the Battersea Boot having a bit more luck. They deliberate over one item for so long that the stall holder shouts in desperation, “have it for a pound as long as you promise you’ll go away.”
For tips on what goes down well at the car boot from someone who knows what they’re talking about, watch this video.
Love of a bargain is what draws us all to the world of al fresco second-hand shopping but some of the entry fees for car boot sales across London can be a little pricey. Carbooted have compiled a list of free entry sales for those weekends when we’re watching the pennies.
Sat (from 8am) and Sun (from 10am)
Holloway Road, N7 (opposite the Odeon cinema)
Nearest tube: Holloway Road
If you find yourself in north London this weekend, head for the Holloway car boot on Holloway Road. Seasoned sellers and novice carbooters make for an interesting mix of goods on offer, from DVDs to dining room tables. Bring your sharpest elbows and be prepared for a good old rummage.
Sat (7am to 2.30pm)
Bath Road, TW3
Nearest tube: Hounslow West
If you’re westward (ho!) why not look in on Hounslow West car boot sale on Bath Road. Perfect for early risers, this Saturday only sale opens to punters at 7am so don’t forget the thermos full of coffee.
Sun (6am to 1pm)
Clayton Road, SE15
Nearest tube: Peckham Rye (Overground)
If saaf of the river is more your style, then Peckham car boot is the place for you. This sale is seasonal and runs every Sunday from March through to October but seeing as this is England, that doesn’t guarantee good weather. Bring a brolly.
You may think you know what sells at the car boot, but how likely is it that you own goods that people will want to buy?
carbooted’s Kate Lloyd checked out her parents’ house to see if she has anything worth taking to the car boot. You can watch the video below to see how she got on.
Music: Miss Emma – Une Glace au Citron. Used via a Creative Commons license.
Here are her top five searching tips:
1. Remember: even if you’re selling second hand never sell anything dirty or broken – the buyers just won’t come back!
2. Don’t forget to look at the top of your wardrobe, underneath your bed and in your back shed for forgotten treasures
3. If you aren’t sure whether to sell it – don’t! You’ll only regret it later.
4. Consider whether you have the means to take large goods to the car boot. It’s alright saying you’re going to sell your garden furniture, but are you going to have to hire an expensive van to get it to the sale?
5. Ask friends, family and neighbours to check their cupboards for you too!
Don’t know what sells? Check out our guide from the experts!
The Observer has invited its favourite 50 tweeters to name their top three follows – read the article here. But carbooted was dismayed to see that there were no car booters on the list, so we’ve decided to share our own favourite car boot related tweeters…
Avid car booters in London do well to keep an eye on the nearby counties, for new trends and bargains that you wouldn’t find in the capital. @campscamp doesn’t just tweet about the car boot scene in Essex, she’s also got a page on tumblr dedicated to the subject.
CarBootJunction is one of the oldest and best car boot sale directories on the web. Follow them on Twitter for all the latest news and tips on where to find the best car boots in the country.
Closet and Botts specialise in reclaimed and furniture. They’re are based in both London and Brighton so that means they have twice as much specialist knowledge of where to find classic items at bargain prices. Check out their tumblr (http://www.closetandbotts.tumblr.com) to see some of their fantastic reclaimed vintage items.
Capital Car Boot runs a weekly car boot sale in Pimlico which never fails to open, and their twitter feed is a must follow for car booters in London. Not least because every week they tweet a password which allows you free entry after 12.30pm.