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Earn money At Car Boot Sales, Buy and Sell Tableware

Updated on September 14, 2016

Earn Money From Car Boot Sales - Do Your Homework!

If you want to earn money from car boot sales or yard sales, you need to do your homework because when buying from car boot sales or yard sales, knowledge is the key to success. With more and more people selling on eBay rather than taking their items to car boot sales or holding yard sales or garage sales of their own, the bargains are harder to find – but they are there if you know what you are looking for! In this article, I am not looking at antique items or the work of famous Paintresses/Designers such as Clarice Cliff or Susie Cooper as these are far less likely to be found at Car Boot sales nowadays – although you can still get lucky!!

My local car boot sale!

An Aladins' cave - you never know what your are going to find at a car boot sale!
An Aladins' cave - you never know what your are going to find at a car boot sale!

Earn money from Car Boot Sales by researching what sells best

An Emma Bridgewater spongeware mug bought last week at a car boot sale for 75p, sold on eBay for GBP 21
An Emma Bridgewater spongeware mug bought last week at a car boot sale for 75p, sold on eBay for GBP 21

Research the most popular patterns to earn most money from Car Boot Sales

A Royal Albert Lady Carlyle Teapot, seconds qualtity (note scratch through backstamp), in new condition, sold on eBay for GBP 50
A Royal Albert Lady Carlyle Teapot, seconds qualtity (note scratch through backstamp), in new condition, sold on eBay for GBP 50

To Earn Money from Car Boot Sales, My Strategy

My strategy looks at how to earn money from car boot sales by buying ceramics at car boot sales and re-selling on eBay. This hub looks at how to earn money from car boot sales by buying tableware and is the first of a series of three which will be looking individually at how to earn money from car boot sales in the three main categories of Ceramics.

1. Tableware. Dinner services, Tea sets and single items that might be just what someone is looking for to replace a broken item from a now discontinued set.

2. Studio or Art Pottery. Most of what turns up at car boot sales is, quite frankly, unsellable – but if you know what you are looking for, you could hit the jackpot!

3. Items known as ‘Collectibles’. In this category, I have also included figures from companies such as Border Fine Arts and Robert Harrop as these do turn up regularly.


Before you even go to a car boot sale, have a look on eBay, look in ‘completed listings’ for Tableware items and see which manufacturers achieve the best prices. Also have a look at the China Replacement sites online. As a guide, you should expect to get about 50% of the price on these sites for the same item on eBay. For starters, In the UK, I would recommend: -

Bridgewater, Minton, Spode, Denby, Wedgwood, Crown Derby, Poole Pottery, Royal Albert, Johnson Brothers, Villeroy Boch

Check out the best selling brands on eBay in your own country and compile your own list.

Familiarise yourself with the most popular patterns as this is the best way to earn money from car boot sales – most people know the Royal Albert Old Country Roses Pattern, which makes bargains in this pattern harder to find – but Lady Carlyle for example, is less well known and commands higher prices. Make a list of the best selling brands and patterns and keep it on a small card in your purse or wallet to refer to. If you put on your list the price of a teapot in each pattern, you can use my reference guide for comparative prices. The chart below shows the price of a teapot as a 100% and everything else as a percentage so, for example, if a teapot in a particular pattern was £40, a 27cm Plate(Dinner) in the same pattern would be likely to fetch 20% of this in new condition (£8) or 15% of this in used condition (£6).

Chart showing percentage value of tableware items compared to price of teapot

This formula is devised by myself and is Copyright Alison Graham 2010 and may not be reproduced without the author's permission.
This formula is devised by myself and is Copyright Alison Graham 2010 and may not be reproduced without the author's permission.

Please bear in mind when working out what you could earn from car boot sale purchases, that these figures are approximate, intended as a guide and there might be big variations in certain patterns where a particular item is very hard to find. Also, please bear in mind that ceramics are heavy to post so you are likely to get the best price for plates if you are selling more than one at a time and can combine postage for your buyer. Look for the best selling items. In Dinnerware, the best selling items are Dinner plates, Teapots, Jugs, Tureens and Vegetable dishes. Also, the more unusual items such as toast racks command good prices. Mugs are generally more popular than cups and saucers these days (except amongst china that also falls into the ‘collectibles’ category.

Get some good reference books. These really are worth their weight in gold and can help you to earn far more than they cost you. I recommend the following

Encyclopedia of British pottery and porcelain marks
Encyclopedia of British pottery and porcelain marks

This authoratitive encyclopaedia lists over 4,000 British Ceramic Marks. Absolutely invaluable - especially when you want to list your car boot finds on eBay as if you know exactly what you have got and put the manufacturer in the title, you get the BEST price! I have this book myself and use it a lot!


Hot tip.

Look for items of Emma Bridgewater spongeware – especially items from the early days – mugs with early patterns are fetching over £100 at the moment.

A good way to learn what's hot (and what's not) is to look at the 'sold' listings section on eBay and order the results by price (highest first).

Top tips on how to earn money from car boot sales

When going to Car Boot Sales as a buyer, it is worth checking out what time the gates actually open and getting there early. Some organisers will not let buyers in at all before a specified time but may let you in at the same time as the sellers if you pay the same fee as the sellers. A local boot near me allows this and it is well worth getting there at 11 when the gates open to sellers as the public are not allowed in before 1.00. This costs an extra £5 over the price you pay as a buyer but it is well worth it to have the extra two hours with only the other stall holders and dealers for competition when you are browsing.

Make sure you have plenty of change. It's no good finding a bargain if the seller can't change your £20 note!

Always look underneath the sellers' tables as well. I once found a large quantity of Villeroy Boch Petit Fleur Dinnerware under a table which cost me £6. I sold it in individual pieces for over £400!

At the Boot sale, when you find something you like, pick it up and hang onto it. If you put it down, someone else will snaffle it quicker than you can say ‘wink’. Check for damage, particularly look for hairline cracks and chips. On dinner plates, hold at at an angle to the light and look across the surface for knife marks. If these are bad, do not buy.

Quality is everything. Items with a scratch or cut through the base mark are ‘seconds’, these generally don’t get such a high price as 1st quality items. If you have done your homework, you will know approximately how much the item in question might sell for. Realistically, unless the item is likely to sell for over £20, it is not worth you while to buy, unless you can get it for less than half the estimated selling price – ideally you should be looking to buy items for 20% - 30% of the final selling fees. This allows for dips in the market, eBay and PayPal fees and your packing materials (a considerable additional expense if you want to post ceramics safely). Be prepared to negotiate with the seller, you can often get a good reduction if you are buying several things from the same stall.


Submit a Comment
  • Alison Graham profile imageAUTHOR

    Alison Graham 

    8 years ago from UK

    Sorry for the delay in replying to your post @Suppliers - this is a great link you have provided, thank you very much.

    I have to say that Car Boot Sales (for me at least) have turned into more of a way to save money than to make money. The 'gems' are few and far between but books, music cds, baby clothes, childrens toys, vegetables, plants, household items ALL are available at massive savings over even Charity Shop prices so for anyone on a budget, Car-Booting is a must!

    Good luck with your business - if you have a particular hobby or something you have knowledge about, you will do far better at Boot Sales - for example, my husband who knows quite a bit about fishing was able to pick up some expensive equipment for almost nothing - which he could have sold at a great price on ebay (we checked the prices but he decided to keep those items for himself!).


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