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How to get the best deals at car boot and yard sales

Updated on July 25, 2013

Car boot sales and yard sales are very common in many parts of the world. They provide the seller an opportunity to get rid of unwanted stuff and the buyer to get almost new or good condition items for a fraction of the original price. As a buyer, you can save thousands of dollars a year if you shop from car boot or yard sales. Over the years I have purchased many expensive items for next to nothing. I have bought most of the stuff I needed for my baby during the course of my pregnancy and all my toddlers toys have been bought used. Just this week I have bought a baby swing for $10, a play kitchen for $1 and a scanner for $2. Branded infant/toddler clothing sells for something like $.50 a piece. Why pay full price for clothes that children outgrow within a matter of months? What better place then a yard or car boot sale to find vintage and rare discontinued items? Have I convinced you? Well let me share some of my secrets of how to get the best deals at car boot and yard sales.

  • Know what you need - If you are looking for something in particular, make sure you have the dimensions, shades, samples etc. You do not want to be caught wondering if this is going to fit or look right. You may want to equip yourself with measuring tape so that you do not need to rely on the seller or your eyes.
  • Ask for what you need- The car boot or yard sale seller may not have had the time to unpack all his items. If there is something you need, ask because you may be surprised at what lies in the boxes.
  • Go early or late - The early bird catches the deals but the latecomer gets all the discounts. I recommend going early to check out the good deals. If you like something that is out of budget, you may want to return towards the end of the sale to see if it has been discounted. It usually is, because the seller usually doesn't want to have to pack his stuff back up!
  • Haggle - Rather then paying for each item, ask for the total price when you have finished shopping. Having purchased more then 1 item, you are in a better position to haggle and bargain. The seller will not want to lose a bulk buyer and is more likely to give you a discount.
  • Make offers- If you do not like the price the car boot seller has come up with, make a counter offer. Do not be embarrassed or worry that your offer may offend him. You never really know how much he has overshot the price!
  • Rummage - Get ready to rummage. Do not expect to walk through a car boot or yard sale without touching and sifting through things and expecting a bargain. Bargains often need to be found. They are sitting hidden at the bottom of piles or boxes.
  • Check out the crowd - When you enter the car boot or yard sale check out where the crowd is focused. The "good" sellers usually draw the largest crowds.
  • Dress simply - At the car boot sale, try to blend in. Keep your expensive bag and fancy branded clothing at home. Very often a seller often gauges what you may be ready to pay by your appearance. Appear well off and you get the fancy price!
  • Be comfortable - A morning at a yard or car boot sale can be very long and tiring if you are going through piles and boxes and are not comfortable. Wear trousers and flat shoes and take drinks and a hat if its a hot day.
  • Act passive - Even if you come across the item you have wanted for ages at a too good to be true price, do not grab it. Appear passive. Hold it in your hand (you do not want another buyer to grab it) and act as though you are thinking it over. You may even want to have a "pretend" discussion with your partner who may appear to discourage you from buying it. At this point the seller may offer a discount to encourage you or you may want to place an offer and the seller will be more likely to accept in order not to lose the sale.
  • Take your own bags - Very often sellers do not have bags so you may want to take your own bags to avoid walking around the car boot or yard sale holding your purchases in your hand. Without free hands, you are unlikely to find bargains.
  • Take small change - Remeber a yard sale is not a shop and it is unlikely that you will get discounts if you are flashing $100 bills.
  • Know the prices- It is hard to find deals and haggle with car boot sellers if you do not know the original value of the item. If you are looking for something, do some research, including what it sells for used. You may want to check out ebay to get an idea.


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    • kikalina profile image

      kikalina 5 years ago from Europe

      Yeah haggling is not for everyone but you really have to haggle to get good deals.

    • hoteltravel profile image

      hoteltravel 6 years ago from Thailand

      In my part of the world, middlemen are the buyers and sellers. But these same tips come in handy when dealing with them. If you enjoy haggling, this is the best way to acquire secondhand items at rock-bottom prices.

    • kikalina profile image

      kikalina 6 years ago from Europe

      Very true.I have noticed the car boot business people going early and not unpacking. Instead they wait for the one time genuine carbooters to unpack and buy the sellable stuff as cheap as they can. They then resell at a profit.

    • annart profile image

      Ann Carr 6 years ago from SW England

      Voted up and useful. I used to go to lots here in England but they're becoming rather too commercial and I only buy from the genuine car-booters. Good tips.

    • kikalina profile image

      kikalina 6 years ago from Europe

      Yeah the acting passive does work with novice sellers. The hard core sellers will know when you are going to buy!

    • alocsin profile image

      alocsin 6 years ago from Orange County, CA

      I've never tried the "act passive" strategy at those sales -- though it sounds like a good strategy. Voting this Up and Useful.

    • kikalina profile image

      kikalina 6 years ago from Europe

      Oh yes people will haggle with you even if your prices are rock bottom. I guess you should start off at the higher end and work your way down.

    • alissaroberts profile image

      Alissa Roberts 6 years ago from Normandy, TN

      I had my first yard sale a few months ago and man did I learn a few things. I thought I was selling at a reasonable price but people were wheeling and dealing me left and right. Next time I am pricing my items that are in good condition a little higher next time. Good tips in this hub - voted up and useful.

    • kikalina profile image

      kikalina 6 years ago from Europe

      Yeah I guess haggling is expected at these kind of sales.

    • Millionaire Tips profile image

      Shasta Matova 6 years ago from USA

      These are all great ideas. The way I dress, people should be giving me all their stuff! I agree, being prepared with measurements, and asking for things the seller may have in the house that you might be able to convince them to sell, and haggling are all a part of the shopping experience. Voted up.

    • Movie Master profile image

      Movie Master 6 years ago from United Kingdom

      I love going to boot sales, having a 'haggle' and picking up a bargain!

      Thank you for sharing some great tips, voting up, best wishes MM

    • kikalina profile image

      kikalina 6 years ago from Europe

      Very true. You may indeed find a few new items or stock from closed down shops.

    • Stephanie Henkel profile image

      Stephanie Henkel 6 years ago from USA

      You've got lots of good tips here for those who are looking for bargains at car boot sales, garage sales and yard sales. It's amazing what one can find, sometimes even brand new items, at these sales! Voted up and useful and interesting.

      Welcome to HubPages!