Is there loot in that boot? Southend's Car Boot season is well under way
26th June 2012
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Let's not allow the great British summer put a dampener on things. Rain or shine there's fun to be had and maybe a few pennies to be made at a good car boot sale. Whether you're buying or selling, following a few tried and tested tips will ensure the junk in your trunk doesn't go back home with you.


Be prepared. A pasting table, clothes rail and selection of cardboard boxes should be all you need to display your wares. Cover the table with a plain sheet to show off your better items at their best, make sure decent clothes are clean, preferably ironed and displayed on a rail.  Smaller items can be put into 'rummage boxes' each with their own value, books at 50p, toys for a pound, childrens clothes etc. Although you might not be able to put stickers on each and every one of your bits and bobs, pricing up larger items will give buyers an idea of your expectations, and then they can haggle from there! 


Beware the Dealers! Particularly if you are a new booter, the dealers will spot you and be swarming round before you've even had time to unload. Also at this point it may be prudent to mention that it's pretty much impossible to do a boot sale on your own, you need eyes in the back of your head as you try to unload, organise and display your goods.  Serious bargain hunters do not stand back politely and let you get ready, they're in it to win it. You can TRY and ask them to come back in ten minutes but some of them can be very persistent! 


Obviously if your aim is to get rid of all your stuff and still be home in time for Sunday lunch then you may be happy to hand over the bulk of your good stuff to dealers, but you could find that what is left is not appealing enough to draw the regular punters to your stall, and they may have been prepared to pay more.


Be realistic - but don't give your stuff away. There's a lot of 'brass neck' out there and people think nothing of offering as little as 10% of the price you've put on the ticket.  Politely but firmly stick to your guns.  It's accepted that towards the end of the day prices for stuff left over will hit rock bottom, but new people will continue to turn up for several hours after the first rush. That doesn't mean you can't be flexible to get a sale, someone buying three designer dresses is entitled to expect a discount, but a vintage handbag that several other people clearly have their eye on will command full ticket price!


Delegate. At a large car boot sale it really takes at least three people to successfully man a stall. Make sure one person is in charge of more expensive items, with jewellery, mobile phones etc positioned on view but out of reach if possible. And of course there are coffee and toilet runs to be taken into account.


Get there early - you can get one of the best pitches. If you can attend a sale as a 'punter' in advance of going as a buyer you'll quickly spot the prime sites (next to the burger van is always a good call!)


Money, money, money - take LOTS of change. Use a shoulder bag, bum bag or money belt - not a petty cash tin on the table. Do your sums to make sure there is profit in your goods after you've deducted pitch costs, petrol prices, and food and drink.  Make a vow to yourself not to browse the other stalls, you really don't want to end up going home with a bootful of someone else's junk!


So if you fancy clearing your clutter and making some booty, why not go along to Lazybones (Old Leigh) Bootfair. Lazybones UK have been operatingMarkets and Bootsales for 30 years and their sale at Leigh on Sea Station runs every Sunday all year round. There is no need to book, just arrive at 8am ready to sell for 9am. The sale has even been visited on several occasions by the BBC's Car Booty programme, and they know their stuff! 


Alternatively also running every Sunday is the A127 Giant Boot Sale. Another established venue with around 21 years under their belts at Stevensons Farm on the A127/A132 junction this one's for the early birds with a 6am start! On site facilities are excellent and the organisers pride themselves on their family friendly atmosphere, having staff in radio contact with each other and a tannoy system for lost children (normally found under a toy table!) and important announcements. And if your equipment is lacking, they also hire out tables and dress rails on site. It's recommended you call in advance for this one as it can occasionally be affected by the weather.


Full details of both boot fairs can be found on our Events page, with a link to their websites, which are well worth visiting for extra assistance for both buyers and sellers.

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