Golden Opportunities Await At Your Local Car Boot Sale...

There is Gold To Be Had At your local Car Boot Sale...

Are you a maker, a would-be maker, have an online shop or a skill that you’d like to develop into a business?  Pack up your unwanted gubbins and head to your local Car Boot Sale for some precious sales practise.

This weekend I did my first Car Boot Sale.  

Car Boot Sale, Samantha Barnes is

In the 20 years of my artist,  I’ve sold work via gazillions of art shows, have established online sales channels, had my own gallery, been part of the highest of high-end art exhibitions,  lusted over the brochures of shows I’d like to attend for numerous hundreds of pounds, but never considered for a moment, selling via my car boot.

Having moved house last year and two babes around the teens, we have much gubbins that needed new homes.  We spent Saturday sorting the garage and my studio into three piles: Keep, Carboot, Dump.

With a car packed tightly, I joined the queue at 6am on Sunday at my local Car Boot Sale.

I could easily make this post about the wonderful ways of the Car Booty, the amazing characters, the fact that loads of people had pink hair and how not to eat your lunch at 8.30am, but what really struck me was the ‘selling’ and how similar this practise was to some of the poshest exhibitions I’ve ever had my work in.

I had no paintings with me, just gubbins that others could use.  I had the simple aim of getting rid of it in order not to go home with it again. Once it was out of the car, I was not going to repack it all - this meant I was going to sell it.

The Car Boot Sale had a time limit, just as the Private Viewings have at an exhibition.  I had about 4 hours in which to offload and sell my lot, only this time with no wine (PV’s always have wine).

I started off meekly, smiling and being as welcoming to my stand as possible.  This is equivilient to welcoming everyone along to see the artwork on the walls.

An hour or two in, I began to hustle, cajole and encourage those passing my stall, not by telling them about what I was selling, but by interacting further with them.  Patting dogs worked a treat, saying hello to crying children and generally being nice in a more chatty way, this lead directly to more sales.

Three hours in I was off.  All the good items on my stand had pretty much gone now, so afraid of looking a bit desperate with only a few items on my stand, I took some of my Dog Painting Leaflets and hung them all over my stand -  like I said I had no actual paintings with me.

My flyers worked a treat, some noticed them, others walked past.

By hour 4, I felt brassy and more comfortable, time to step it up at a bit.

I made a beeline for anyone passing that had dogs.   I actively went up to them and asked if I might give them a flyer for the dog paintings I make in my day job.

This surprised even me, but it felt right.  If I’d done this in the first couple of hours, it would have been wasted energy, but now it felt right.  I can’t pinpoint why, perhaps different attendee’s perhaps every just felt a bit more comfortable, it being later in the morning.

The results from my £8 pitch fee and those 4 or 5 hours on a Sunday morning are:

  • £60 cash up from unwanted stuff

  • 5 email addresses for people wanting me to contact them re dog portrait paintings

  • 2 confirmed commissions


Yesterday (It’s now Monday) I learned that Old Skool marketing works.  People LOVE nicely designed flyers. They remember you, especially if you gave it to them yourself, and they keep them on the fridge.    Meeting face to face makes for a golden opportunity to make an impression.

After packing up my car with the things I had left, plus the new chair, weird Light House Candleholder thing I bought along with an orange glass vase (really?)  I drove straight to my local recycling centre and left anything that wasn’t purchased on my stand in the Second-Hand Drop Off point and came home for a long afternoon nap.

I woke up feeling rather chuffed.

I hope this helps, have you ever done a car booty?  How did it go for you? I’d love to know


You can find your local car boot sale here.