Sunday, January 12, 2014

One Mans Trash is Another Mans Treasure: Gumtree and Car Boot Sales

Well that's what the saying says, and it seems to be somewhat true!

We started the New Year off doing some cleaning up of unwanted items in anticipation of a sale of the house, and a down size hopefully in the wind this year, we decided to do something unusual for us and elected to try and sell some of the things we no longer use or need, or hopefully won't need if we sell.

It was amazing to be honest, just how much stuff we have cleared out of the house over the last 2 weeks.  We started in the dark and dreary place under our staircase, after all most of the stuff in there was put there on the week of moving in, and in most instances hasn't been touched or looked at since.  Our premise here was if we haven't used it in that 4 years, chances are we don't need it, and while it may have been treasure to us at one point in our lives, it certainly isn't anymore.

We decided to  start with the boxes and boxes of paperwork as generally this is the easier things to rid yourself of, and after 2 days of cleaning up a stack of unneeded paperwork you know, boxes of tax receipts going back to 1991 (3 large storage boxes), old diaries, old work related items, old pay slips, old bills etc that got shoved into boxes when we last moved for a just in case and just general items you tend to keep and box we got rid of 2 car boot loads of paper, but did find 2 old Superannuation Policies though that we had totally forgotten about important to us now we have retired- so a win win, cleaned up, threw out and found some money as well, and enjoyed looking at things that had once meant a lot to us in some form or other.

So with all the crappy stuff now gone, we started on the next level of cleaning up, and going through real things throughout the house, those things in cupboards on high shelves, in the garage, on book cases, in draws and on hangers at the end of the wardrobe and moved them all out into the garage into one clean space and really looked at it, of course the odd item was far too precious to sell, but in the main we looked at what was there and felt these where things that would be treasure to someone else and while not trash they were no longer needed here.

Over the years we have not been renowned for buying cheap items so most of our stuff is of decent quality, even our clothes have generally been good quality and we have always looked after things well.  In the past when we have moved, we generally have given things away as we like to help others, but we also like to start in a new home with new things, but of course those where the days when time was money and it was quicker to find someone who needed things rather than spend time selling things, and there is the fact that money wasn't as big an issue.  Aaaah retirement, and more importantly self funded retirement does change many things, including our time is now our time so we have time to go through things, take photos, post ads and then bicker in the garage as someone comes and makes and offer, we now have time to go to car boot sales and spend 5 hours selling things for $5 a piece that once had cost $200.  We also think differently now we are retired and went nothing ventured nothing gained, where in the past it would have been do we need a few hundred dollars that badly, but now while we don't need it as such, it definitely comes in handy.

So with what we considered a good pile of things, from all different stages of our lives and a wide variety of times from near new drill sets, bar accessories, sporting goods, games, clothes, hand bags, shoes, books galore, boat accessories, garage items by the dozen, we set off taking photos and posting ads on Gumtree.

I could never really understand e-bay, maybe it was because I didn't have the time or the inclination to, but Gumtree I get, and it is so easy to setup a profile, post your ads and its about local, local people calling you, local people coming to see something and then local people handing you some cash, so we liked this style.  So with camera in hand we started taking photographs of everything and putting them on Gumtree, and at the same time had found a car boot sale on this week in a close suburb, it was all going to go and we were going to see how well this process works.  

Within a day we had sold 3 items on Gumtree and had accrued $140 in cash already so we were pretty happy with this.  We invested $90 of this in a fold out table which we will use again no doubt and 2 clothes hangers, some stickers, cardboard to make signs and felt pens to take to the car boot sale which was going to cost $20, so the pre-car boot sale of items paid for our extra things we needed in order to sell the rest of the items.  I also put up an ad with items we would take to the car boot sale and advertised where it was - we did sell some items on the day of the boot sale because they had seen it on Gumtree and had come specifically  to buy the item at the car boot sale.

Up at 3am grrrrr that was hard - once upon a time it was the time we got up every morning, but I am use to sleeping in these days, we packed the car which was chokers with every part of the Captiva loaded with something and arrived at Burleigh at 4.30am.  We really didn't know what to expect, but as we were unpacking things, there were people there with torches offering money on things as they were being unloaded into our space for the mornings selling, unbelievable!

After that initial adrenaline rush, we managed to get everything out of the car already $20 or so richer and get it on display and priced up, we were now ready and it was just 5am.  The day was fast and furious, with bartering going on all over the place, and we had little time between 5am and 10am to sit down.

It's hard to know what to price things at, but within an hour we began to realise that at car boot sales $20 is about the max anyone will pay for anything in most cases and even then they want to knock it down from what you have it priced at, so we began to make pricing changes to ensure we took little or nothing home.

The difference between selling on Gumtree and a Car Boot Sale is you will probably get your price or close to it by selling on Gumtree if its a fair and reasonable price, but it might take a few weeks and then you are selling only 1 item at a time, where at Car Boot sales, you will get less but sell more items quickly.  An example is I put all the books I had read this year into 2 boxes (50 odd) and put on Gumtree take the lot for $60, and got no inquiries, however these books were placed at the front of our stand at $2 each and sold them all (so made more money ultimately) as well as then selling other items to these people while they were there.  The drill which had never been used we put on Gumtree for $40 but sold at the Car Boot Sale for $15, but I didn't want to take it back home.  Remember its not what you paid for something and it doesn't matter if it has never been used, its what someone is prepared to pay for it now and the cost of storing and maintaining something that you have never used.

So how did we go, well we sold just about everything, there were a few clothing items left, and the odd thing here and there but we sold 99% of what we took and went home with little in the car except the empty boxes and $400 profit in hard cold cash in our hands, so with what we had sold on Gumtree earlier in the week, we were over $500 richer for our clean out and we were happy with that.  We had decided that if we came home with $100 it was fair, if we came home with $500 that would be fabulous so we were happy with our $400. We had a great time selling again which was fun as well, and had great chats to some absolutely lovely people, so the morning was fun and fruitful.  This will pay for a nice week away for us when the school holidays are over and this is what its about for us now.

My Top Tips for Car Boot Sales

  • Have good quality items (not junk) we did do better than a lot around us because of this
  • Have a good variety of items, and especially boys toys (for the men)
  • No matter how good your clothes are, people won't pay more than $5 for anything and while we had $1, $3 and $5 items people will still be picky and still want 4 $1 for $3 so be happy to negotiate
  • Talk to people and be prepared to sell the features and benefits of the item and tell stories about the item as well if you have some, we found this sold a lot of things
  • Move things around as you sell items, so those who may have been past before see a different setting - we sold things later in the day to people who had been in, past items before and because we had moved them into the front they then focused on those items 
  • Have good quality cheap items (like my books) at the front to drag people in
  • Put a price on, and throughout the day mark these down, people then think they are getting a bargain
  • In most instances $20 is about as much as you will get - so to make money you have to have a lot of stuff, we did sell 1 or 2 items for $30-40 but only a couple 
  • Ask people to make you an offer
  • Don't just sit there, get up, get talking, get selling
  • Ensure battery operated items are charged, people want to see things working
  • Make sure things are clean and tidy
  • Try to get things up off the ground, it makes it easier for people to go through things when they are on a table, or box, or hangers
  • Don't take offense by the offers, they are what they are, if you don't want to take the price offered then don't, but be prepared to take it home unsold
  • Take heaps of plastic bags to put your sold items into - because we had these we sold things because it made it easier for people to carry around
  • Bag small items up first ie:  we had heaps of curtain accessories, hooks etc (even though we hadn't had curtains in our home for 4 years), we bagged these all up and sold for $5 (rather than try to sell each of the items separately).  Likewise we took 3 half used bottles of boat polish and bagged them together for $5.