5 ways to ensure a profitable summer buying and selling season

A little car boot sales knowledge
goes a long way this summer…

IT is finally finished – ‘it’ being that long report I promised you, the one about making money from collectibles that often get overlooked in offline auction salerooms and which form the basis of my own business selling collectibles on eBay.

That report has taken much longer than expected to finish but I really have spent a long time digging through my huge databank of memories about items that have made the most money for me.

I’ve also looked for ways to make your collectibles different to what other people are selling, sometimes by turning them into alternative pieces and more often by cleaning them up and adding something else to make them more saleable.

You’re going to love these ideas which I guarantee will work – because I have done all of these things myself and want you to make money based on my experiences.

So download my FREE 76-page report before you start reading this eLetter… And if you have any queries you can email me and I will do my best to help!


It is early May, about a month away from the summer car boot and outdoor selling season – and time to earn really high profits buying goods way below their true market value and reselling those items on eBay.

And that is when you might enjoy experiences similar to these:

– Some years back a man paid one pound for a framed picture at a car boot sale. He liked the picture and detested the frame. As he began taking the picture out of the frame he discovered a letter bearing what looked to be the signature of scientist Albert Einstein. Research showed the signature was genuine and could be worth thousands of pounds.

A vase costing £1 at a car boot sale in Dumfries was taken to an Antiques Roadshow event where experts identified it as a 1929 Feuilles Fougeres piece by Rene Lalique. Soon afterwards the vase sold for more than thirty thousand pounds.

5 ways to ensure a profitable summer buying and selling season

Such tales are not that rare and often feature in programmes like Flog It! and Dickinson’s Real Deal, even though your own expert valuations might not extend to thousands of pounds.

You need a little knowledge, of course, to help you identify ‘sleepers’ – items selling below their true market price by sellers who don’t appreciate their true values, and typically priced in pennies or low pounds with potential to fetch twenty, thirty or maybe several hundred pounds profit on eBay.

You also have to distinguish sellers likely to have sleepers on their stalls from highly experienced sellers who never price their goods low.

Alongside sleepers you’ll be looking for everyday items offering just ten or twenty pounds profit on eBay, and frequently more. Find several such items at every sale and you could make a full-time living from outside events. Sleepers are the icing on the cake.

This is not a pie-in-the-sky opportunity. I know lots of people who make money visiting car boot sales and other sales events held outdoors every weekend and sometimes on weekdays. Then they spend the rest of the week uploading their acquisitions to eBay and ploughing back profits into the following week’s sales.

These tips will help you do the same:

#1. Most people know about car boot sales but very few realise they are just one of numerous outside selling venues where traders set up stall beside their vehicles. Most of those other events resemble the typical car boot sale but usually have many more sellers and small cars and vans replaced by large lorries and motor homes. I’ve even seen sellers turn up to large events with five or six large vans packed with goods and all parked together while the sale takes place.

Some of the largest events have thousands of sellers trading in the open air and hundreds more set up in large tents and buildings.

Generally speaking, the more expensive goods and the most experienced sellers are found under cover. Those are not the people you should target first at mainly outdoor events. See the next tip.

#2. The best people to buy from are families and inexperienced and non-specialist dealers, people who lack specialist knowledge of everything they sell and are likely to make pricing mistakes, as well as being quick to accept lower prices. They will usually have lots of very different items on sale and they rarely pay attention to layout of their goods or appearance of their stalls. Goods will usually be priced on tiny sticky labels attached to the product or not priced at all. To make money from these people you only have to acquire knowledge they don’t have, even if only from researching resale prices for selected goods on a mobile phone before heading in for the kill.

Idea: Take someone with you to research prices online while you hold or stand close to the item and deter others from buying it.

Experienced sellers, people who know everything about their goods and are never likely to sell below value, have very well laid out stalls, usually with high quality table covering and glass cabinets. Their goods are invariably priced on labels with string to hang loose over delicate items. These people rarely accept offers from the general public but they can be persuaded to allow ten per cent discount to the trade.

Asking ‘How much to the trade?’ will usually knock ten per cent off the price tag but some sellers might require proof of your trading status. A business card or business letterhead bearing your eBay trading details will do the job.

#3. If you’re going to make serious money you have to focus on the largest events, including:

Swinderby, Lincolnshire
Newark, Nottingham – my personal favourite
Peterborough, Cambridgeshire
Newbury, Berkshire
Organisers: International Antiques and Collectors’ Fairs

Lincoln, Lincolnshire – the showground
Organiser: Arthur Swallow Fairs

You’ll find all the UK’s biggest and many of the smaller events advertised in The Antiques Trade Calendar available from:
G. P. London, 32 Fredericks Place, North Finchley, London N12 8QE

Note: I haven’t found a website for G. P. London but you will find the calendar available from the entry desk at most indoor and outdoor flea markets.

For more information about larger outdoor selling events visit:

This calendar of antique fairs in the UK
This list of England’s best vintage markets and antique fairs
Car Boot Junction, a car boot sales directory

Contradicting myself slightly, you may sometimes find bargains and even sleepers at really small events, including church hall and school fetes. But your acquisitions will be low in volume compared to hundreds of bargains available from most of those larger events just mentioned.

#4. A little knowledge will go a long way and help you spot bargains with high resale price potential on eBay. It’s best to focus on one or two potentially high profit type items and learn as much as possible about them, rather than attempt to gain knowledge about hundreds of different products. Specialise this way and you will soon have more knowledge about your chosen products than most people selling at car boot sales and other outdoor selling venues.

Learn by reading articles about your chosen products, study research carried out for you in eBay Confidential, watch antiques and collectibles programmes on television. Most important of all is to study eBay daily for recent sales of your chosen product types. See what prices they fetch, notice how sellers describe their items, study keywords used in titles to help listings rank high in search returns. Make notes about specific products and resale prices to take with you on buying expeditions.

Until you gain knowledge I recommend you focus on buying and reselling:

– Victorian photographs bearing sitters’ names printed or handwritten. Research names on Google and you’ll find some famous people likely to attract multiple bidders and double or triple figure profits, alongside everyday folk whose descendants might pay ten or twenty pounds for a photograph to help research their family tree.

– Toys needing just a wash to turn them into budget gifts at Christmas.

– Fancy clothing for babies and toddlers. Items like Christening gowns and shawls, party dresses and outfits for bridesmaids can cost fifty pounds or much more purchased new and be outside many parents’ budgets. Wash those items, make basic repairs and sell them on eBay.

– Most handmade items from Victorian or earlier times, such as Valentine’s Day cards, postcards with pieces of postage stamps used to create images of people and buildings (Chinese stamp montage postcards can sell for hundreds of pounds on eBay), dolls’ clothing, baby outfits. In good condition, many Victorian or earlier handmade items will fetch two and three figure prices on eBay.

#5. Haggle for everything that takes your fancy, regardless of how low the original price is. Saving just two or three pounds on every purchase adds up significantly and can make a big difference to your profit margins on eBay.

That’s just five tips to help you make money this summer and there’ll be more to come in future eLetters.

I hope you do well and if you need more help simply email me at avril@canonburypublishing.com.

This article first appeared on Auction Genie. Read more and comment here