Become A Car Boot Queen: How To Spot A Diamond In The Rough

The savvy shopper can land some absolute steals at a car boot sale. If you’re looking to pick up a few fantastic bargains — not to mention do your bit for the planet by giving someone’s unwanted things a new home — then look no further than your local meet-up.

Belle About Town has put this guide to becoming a car boot sale queen together for anyone who’s new to this great British tradition and doesn’t know where to start. Read on to find out our top tips for picking up a car full of bargains.

Know what you want

You’ll find hundreds, if not thousands, of unique items on sale at the average car boot sale. If you want to make the most of it, then it’s important to have an idea of the types of things you want to pick up.

So, while it’s obviously going to depend on what’s on offer, write a shopping list of things you actually need. Whether you’re looking for some furniture you can upcycle, jewellery you can give a new lease of life, or toys and games for your little ones, you’ll have a lot more success if you turn up with some ideas.

Of course, if you spot an absolute steal, you don’t have to overlook it because it’s not on your list. However, narrowing down your search makes it a lot harder to get side-tracked and end up with a bunch of things you don’t need.

Diamonds are a girl’s best friend

Even if you’re not interested in picking up some pre-loved jewellery for yourself, you should keep a sharp eye out for precious stones whenever you visit a car boot sale.


Well, it was recently reported that a diamond ring bought for just £10 at a car boot sale is expected to fetch £350,000 at auction. While you’re not likely to be that lucky, you should be sure to keep your eyes peeled for jewellery in case you spot your own bargain.

A lot of people don’t know what they’re looking for when it comes to gemstones, and an ill-informed seller might very well let a priceless piece of jewellery go for next to nothing. For the best chance of spotting a fantastic deal, get clued up on what makes the perfect diamond with Est.1897’s guide to diamonds. Armed with this knowledge, you’ll be able to spot a precious gemstone if you’re ever lucky enough to stumble across one at a car boot sale.

Set a budget

Alongside a rough idea of what you want to pick up at the sale, you should set yourself a budget. This will not only stop you from spending too much, but also force you to be more selective with the items you pick up.

It’s also a good idea to have an emergency fund that you can dip into if you spot a fantastic item that’s going to take you over budget. However, it’s important to treat this as a pot you only touch when you absolutely have to and not an extension of your budget, or else you’ll quickly find yourself spending a lot more than you’d originally accounted for.

Get the timing right

It’s all in the timing when it comes to a car boot sale. If you want the pick of the best items, turn up nice and early before they’ve all been snapped up. If you want the best prices, arrive right at the end when sellers will drop the cost of items so they don’t have to take them back home.

Arriving early and late have their own advantages, and you can have some great success with both. Try each tactic out and see what works best for you.

Don’t be afraid to haggle

We Brits famously don’t like to haggle. While trying to push down the price of an item might make you a bit uncomfortable, it’s par for the course at a car boot sale. So, before you set off, read Save the Student’s excellent guide to haggling like a pro for some expert tips.

Negotiating at a car boot sale will not only lead to some excellent bargains on the day, but also help you develop the often overlooked art of haggling. According to Which?, you can shave an average of almost £500 off your annual household bills by getting on the phone and negotiating with your providers. So, while you might lose out on a few items while you sharpen your negotiation skills, it will pay itself back several times over when you transfer those skills to bringing down your monthly expenses.


So, there you have it: everything you need to know to be a car boot sale queen. Now all there’s left to do is use Car Boot Junction to find a meet near you and put our top tips to practice. Happy hunting!

Emily Cleary

Emily Cleary

After almost a decade chasing ambulances, and celebrities, for Fleet Street’s finest, Emily has taken it down a gear and settled for a (slightly!) slower pace of life in the suburbs. With a love of cheese and fine wine, Emily is more likely to be found chasing her toddlers round Kew Gardens than sipping champagne at a showbiz launch nowadays, or grabbing an hour out of her hectic freelancer’s life to chill out in a spa while hubby holds the babies. If only!


Be the first to like.