1. Lots of bootsale sellers will change the price based on who you are or the look you convey. I recommend wearing jeans and a scuzzy hooded top and don’t take that screamy-screamy-floral-floral Cath Kidston bag with you for goodness sake. That screams ‘I will pay almost anything for a pretty saucer’. I wear trainers, my painting skirt and my uni netball jumper (Wing Attack, what were you?) and carry my money in my pocket (I’m known for just putting my bag down wherever I go and I don’t want someone buying it.)
2. Play dumb (a bit). If it is openly obvious that you like something the price, as most bootsalers don’t pre-price with labels, will likely get bumped up. If I think something might be valuable or something I covet I’ll look at something else on the stall whilst slyly eyeing it from afar before declaring ‘that’s unusual, I’ve never seen anything like that before’ and giving it a quick once over to see what the backstamp/aging is like.
3. Ask for more. Yep it isn’t a shop but sometimes if you ask if the seller if they have anything else of a similar age that they might be looking to sell, they’ll say yes. Many a time I’ve noticed that a lot of the stuff a seller has for sale is of a similar age and style and it turns out they are selling off items after a death or house clearance. More often than not they’ll indicate that they’re planning to come back on another date with other items or take your details and get in contact at a later date if they’re having a garage or estate sale.
4. Get on your hands and knees and search through the boxes on the floor. The best things are hidden in boxes and baskets. Sellers tend to put things that they think are valuable up front and in prime positions but more often than not the things they think are valuable are very different to your idea of valuable.
5. Take some packaging with you. Sellers often underestimate the amount of bags and packaging they need. I take one large shopper filled with 5 smaller bags (string bags are useful as they expand.) I also pack a newspaper so I can wrap delicate items. There is nothing worse than finding something perfect at a bootsale only for it to break in the car on the way home.
6. Haggle but not too much. Is there really any point making a fool of yourself over 20p?
7. Make a day of it. Mr Thrifty and I take a look at the local bootsales in the papers and those a little further afield on websites and work out a big loop of a journey in order to include them all. Whilst it is a good rule to get there early, there are also lots of bargains to be had later in the day. Often sellers will just leave items or shout out ‘everything is 10p’ because they don’t want to take anything home with them. Working out a day route means you can hit some early and some later on in the day and hopefully get best of both worlds.
8. Check items for damage and sizing. Make sure labels can be peeled off without damaging the item.
When buying clothing check the seams, size and armpits. You don’t want to buy an item with pit stains unless you plan to chop it up.
9. Don’t be afraid to ask for a discount if you’re buying multiple items from one seller. The worst they can say is no.
10. I keep a list of spaces in my house that I want to fill or things I need, with measurements listed next to them. So it is useful to take a tape measure to make sure that the item will fit well when you get it home.