How boot sales can help you reach your savings goals

Boot sales! You got to love them on a beautiful sunny morning. My usual one, at Ardleigh in Colchester, was absolutely packed with bargain hunters today. I queued for 45 minutes to get in. That’s a first. My daughter was selling and had arrived at 6.30,  but she queued just the same. 

Hannah and Bex as glamorous sellers


If you are on a budget, boot sales  are worth getting up early for. I know people who never go to them. Maybe they imagine them as one huge jumble sale. It’s true, they can be a bit like that but, amongst the junk, there are new and nearly new bargains to help every family stretch their money. Here’s how.

1) New parents: babies don’t care if their clothes and equipment aren’t new. They grow too quickly for their clothes to get worn out. Today I saw an almost new travel cot for £20, a baby bath for £1 and a steriliser for £3 and I wasn’t even looking at baby stuff!

2) Kids: although I would say it is generally more heavily used, it is possible to pick up some great children’s clothes and shoes for pennies. Toys, books and bikes were all available in quantity this morning. 

3) First homers: if you already have the cost of rent or a mortgage to worry about, you possibly don’t have the means to kit your abode out from new. You can get kitchen equipment, bedding, furniture, cushions, pictures, curtains and lots more. Of course, you don’t have to be a first home buyer or new tenant to benefit from the cheap purchase of other folks’ cast offs!

4) Students going to university: similarly you can easily kit out a student from a boot sale. Pots, pans, cookery books, bedding can all be had at a fraction of the price of new items.

5) DIYers: there are always plenty of decent tools on offer from some of the traders, as well as new pots of paint and items such as paintbrushes.

6) Foodies: in recent years boot sales have started to attract more traditional market stalls, selling great value fruit and veg, sweets, cakes and drinks just out of their best before dates as well as fresh meat. You can also pick up household items such as loo roll and household cleaners.

7) Gardeners: I have bought some excellent plants at boot sales over the years – much cheaper than garden centre prices. The professional sellers offer good quality products. The sales are also good for garden tools.

Boot sale haul


8) eBayers: if, like me, you try to make a little extra cash on eBay, then boot sales offer the best place for cheap stock. You will get sellers who are wildly optimistic when pricing their items but many who under charge. I watch out for those who look as if they have had a proper clear out and just want rid. I hit gold today; a lady selling brand new clothes with the tags still on. I asked how much she wanted for a new Phase Eight dress priced at £120 and she said £3!!!! When I had picked myself up off the floor I bought that along with a gorgeous Dorothy Perkins dress and two Tops for £10 – all new with their labels intact. Almost £200 worth! There are also antiques and collectibles for those who have a good eye – it is worth doing some research.

9) Fashionistas: as above. If you need clothes for home or work you can get a lot for your money. You can also find decent costume jewellery, makeup and toiletries.

10) Families searching for fun: DVDs, computer games, board games, bikes, garden swings and trampolines, I have seen them all. If you give the kids a strict budget it can be a fun morning out as well as teaching them the value of money and how to get the most from their cash. Avoid the bouncy castles if you can or they will spend their cash in five minutes flat…

10) Sellers: finally, if you need to make some money whilst clearing your junk, boot sales are perfect!

So… Easter is coming up and there will be boot sales aplenty. If you have never been this is the time to try!

15 thoughts on “How boot sales can help you reach your savings goals

  1. Anna

    That’s weird because over here (France) you certainly wouldn’t get the women’s clothing with the labels on. Children’s clothes of course, a few toys but a bit tatty, but more bric-à-brac kinda thing really. Lots of vases, some pretty nice china and glassware, and so on. I did see a child’s bike for 15 euros which looked in pretty good knick but I suspect you get more choice over in the UK. Still, I went to one today, the weather was lovely and it is a great way to get outside for a few hours and spend very little. Anna

    Reply
  2. sue cuthbert

    Visited one on Saturday it was HEAVING, car park full by 8am. Only looked round half, could have kitted out 1000 children and several 100 houses! I bought a plant and some card making kits – only spent £2.50!

    Reply
  3. Eloise

    I’ve never been to a car boot sale. Whilst I do like a bargain, I don’t like big crowds or overly busy places.

    Reply
  4. Savannah02K

    The only thing I’d say about buying toiletries from boot sales is to only buy products you recognise. I was gifted a travelling set of four Body Shop shower gels, in a travel bag, from a friend who had bought them at a boot sale. Now I love my BS Pink Grapefruit shower gel so know it very well. One of the four miniatures was allegedly Pink Grapefruit but not only was it the wrong colour, it was the wrong fragrance too. The boot sale seller had obviously used the original products and then refilled the bottles with who knows what, looked and smelled like four different types of washing up liquid to me!

    Reply
    1. Anna

      Fake Britain did a very good programme on this about a year ago. More specifically knock off goods. One very cheap (but very pretty) lipstick I remember actually had paint stripper in it when they analysed it, as did knock off supposedly “name brand” mascara. I would never buy toiletries from a car boot for that reason.

      Reply
  5. Helen

    You’ve really encouraged me with eBaying recently and I sold 3 items last night – hooray. I’m still at the stage of selling stuff we no longer need but hope to soon move on to buying things to sell.

    Reply
  6. Kelley B

    on this side of the pond they are usually called Flea Markets…but a local convention center has started having Car Boot Sales once a month…you got some great items…good luck with the eBay selling of them..

    Reply
  7. Julia

    We’d never be up in time for one, assuming I knew where to find them anyway!! 😀

    When I lived in America it was all yard sales or garage sales – the same sort of thing as car boot sales, but done from your own front yard. You’d stick signs on lamp posts the night before directing people to your street and some people would spend all morning driving around the various neighbourhoods – quite often arriving before you’d even got the stuff out!
    When we moved back it was virtually a house clearance and we made thousands of dollars – but probably only a 10th of their original cost.

    I only poked my nose into a yard sale if it was one of my neighbours holding it. I certainly didn’t go looking for them, mostly because it was still spending money on stuff I probably didn’t need. In fact because items were so cheap, I’d probably have spent more on the combined items, than if I’d just gone to the shop and bought the one item new!!
    The kids would dash off with their pocket money buying from their friends though. 🙂

    Reply
  8. Jacquie

    I did get a great second hand pram from once for my youngest, but I’ve also bought a few duds …a baby back carrier that was missing a strap and a bath seat where the suction cups didn’t stick. I guess it’a a case of “buyer beware”
    Glad you can spot a bargain :0)
    Jacquie x

    Reply
  9. Sharon K

    Great post! There are lots of garage sales here in America (one thing I do like about it lol). You can get lots of bargains at them. It’s fun to look too. I sometimes get an urge to go shopping and it can be a lot cheaper hitting garage sales rather than the retail shops.

    Reply
  10. s

    I too am a Boot Fair Queen – Sundays I go to both Ardleigh and Boreham – aka “Harrods under the Sky” and have bagged lots of “preloved” bargains – although I do draw the line at underwear and shoes! I try to avoid obviously knocked off goods from the back of a van (trading standards would have a field day) and have already started buying Xmas presents. (I hope my family appreciate that out of date chocolate 🙂 ) I used to live in the States and miss the yard sales. Nothing I buy costs more than a couple of quid, and when I get bored with it I have my own charity boot sale or donate to charity shops. I like to recycle and hate waste. There’s a lot of folk out there – luckily for me – who have more money than sense and are wasteful. Part of the thrill is the chase and I love a good rummage – you never know what you’ll find! I also “skip surf” and have several pieces of furniture which I have restored.

    Reply
    1. shoestringjane@outlook.com Post author

      Excellent! I have jumped in a few skips myself . I will buy shoes and would buy a decent looking bra if I see one. I draw the line at knickers though.

      Reply
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