Confessions of a car boot sale beginner

car sale
car sale 

My husband accused me of hoarding. To be fair, it doesn’t take much to hoard in our house - space is scarce so one little bag of clothes that I may have been “saving” for sentimental reasons could easily be deemed cumbersome and obstructive.

But I do keep things that make me feel warm and fuzzy inside. Like miniature baby clothes that bring back fond memories of the days when my children didn’t talk back.

If I have to part with them, I like to hand them on to someone who needs them. Should there be items I could redeem some cash for (so I can buy more new things that make me feel warm and fuzzy on the inside), I’m willing to try that too.

So after much grumbling from the husband about all the apparent "rubbish" I was accumulating in the laundry, I signed up for a spot at the local school’s car boot sale.

I sorted ruthlessly through baby clothes and only selected the best stuff. Nice brands in lovely condition, baby goods that were no use to me any more, play mats and carriers, sleeping bags and soft toys – all lovingly labelled (with laminated signs tied with ribbon, I might add) to be passed on to someone else, all for a teeny tiny price.

The alarm went off before anyone in my house was awake. With four children, any one of whom may wake in the night, having to get up on a weekend before them was pure torture. But I dragged my sorry self out of bed and arrived at my pitch as close to on time as a mother-of-four on an early weekend morning can get. I was second last in. Wow! There were some die-hard sellers out there, ready to compete.

As a car boot-sale virgin, I was a tad apprehensive about my set-up: I’d gone a little too upmarket. Making laminated signs and having matching baskets with items in them made my stall look nice but screamed “my stuff’s more expensive than theirs”. My neighbours who had rocked up with cardboard boxes full of toys and handwritten “Everything $1” were doing much better business than me.

I was unprepared for the hagglers, too. I mean, other people’s junk is selling for $1 and you’re trying to bargain them down to 50c? A friend had an entire white dinner set in almost mint condition marked at $5, and a buyer negotiated down to $3. Please.

But perhaps I’m not cut out to be a saleswoman. The crossing lady stopped by and commented on a miniature racing track I was selling for $3. I gave it to her for free. A friend’s child eyed off a soft toy, so I gave it to him. How can I make a measly $1 off a child? Seems cruel.


On the flip side, there are some great bargains to be had! Designer clothes for $5, once-loved toys for $2. Unfortunately my boys discovered a stall with bags and bags of plastic junk for $2, so anything I managed to eliminate was replaced by more of the same.

My husband took over my stall while I made a coffee dash, and of course he managed to sell more in that 15 minutes than I had in the three previous hours. I’m unsure if it was timing, luck or the fact he was shouting “buy one, take everything else for free”.

Seven hours sitting on a deck chair in the sun, smiling as people flicked through my items but purchased nothing, was an experience. A final calculation saw me up $5 after paying for my spot, but that profit was soon lost amongst the home baked goodies at the cake stall.

As I repacked all my preloved goods in the boot and drove straight to the local charity shop, I reflected on the day. It had all been an opportunity to contribute to my children’s school fundraiser, and that made me feel warm and fuzzy inside. I also learnt that one man’s junk is not always another man’s treasure, and that rigorous bargain hunters run rife at car boot sales ...

Have you had any luck with second hand markets - as a buyer or a seller? Comment below or join the conversation in the forum