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Can you make money from charity shop and car boot sale flipping?

I’m always on the hunt for new ways to make some extra money and if you are reading this – then you probably are too. It might seem crazy, but you really can make money at car boot sales and other second hand selling platforms (online and in the flesh). I want to tell you about something which I’m new to – but I’ve heard really good things about. Charity shop (or thrift store) and car boot sale flipping! It sounds crazy but it really can be a great way to make money at car boot sales and via charity shops.

What does it involve?

I’m often asked what are the best things to buy at car sales to resell and flip but there is no hard and fast rule. In order to make money at car boot sales and via other methods of procuring second hand goods to sell on, you need to make sure you do your research. A great place to start is via eBay. Have a browse and see what kind of things are selling, and for what sort of amounts. To start with you might start with a narrow range of items, in order to get to know the products and your target audience well, but in time you can expand. Nowadays, most people have a smart phone, so if you find something whilst out at a car boot sale or charity shop, you can have a quick look online for what it is selling for before you commit to buying it which is a really popular tool.

Before you can embark on reselling, you need to make sure you have space to store the items, as well as some money to purchase items upfront. Once you start making a profit, you can reinvest your income into purchasing more items, but to start with you will need some funds, so if money is really tight, this might not be the right thing for you to try.

I’m not great at it for various reasons – I don’t have a lot of spare time, and in a one bedroom flat I didn’t have a lot of storage space either. I do however know people who have made some serious money doing this.

charity shop flipping and car boot flipping can make you money

How to make money from charity shops with charity shop flipping

Some people don’t feel comfortable buying from charity shops with the intention to sell the items on. Charity shop reselling is a personal decision which is something only you can decide on, but in my opinion it is ok. I would never haggle in a charity shop – I always pay the asking price, therefore, in my opinion, does it matter if I buy the item to sell on, or someone else buys it for themselves?  Either way the charity is getting the same amount of money after all. If you are still unsure – you can always donate a percentage of your profits back to the charity – or any of your own unwanted or unsold items.

I’m really lucky that near where I live and work there are loads of charity shops. I don’t often get time to go in there, but when I do, it is worth a rummage. My favourites are ones near home which are actually clearance stores. I didn’t realise charity shops had clearance stores, but these ones are brilliant. There is always the concern that if the item hasn’t sold in their stores, would it really sell online? You would need to decide yourselves, however some of the items may not have been on sale for long or at many different stores before ending up in their clearance shop, so they are definitely worth a rummage. One of the clearance stores near me even had a “fill a bag for £5” day which meant that I got insane bargains, so events like this are great to look out for. They did it not because the stuff was stuff that hadn’t sold (although some of it was) but because they had too much stock being donated and so needed to make a bit of space!

I have picked up lots of things which are brand new with tags on them. Just because they are new with tags doesn’t guarantee a sale though – so make sure you still do some research. Some other charity shops have clearance rails – look for them too. I got a brand new with tags pair of Craghoppers trousers – sold them on eBay for £10 profit!

Near where I work there is a different selection of charity shops. Before I started working there, I didn’t realise that charity shops price the items for the area. Where I live (without sounding arrogant) is a slightly nicer area. The same chain of charity shops has a store near my work – their prices are consistently lower than the branch near my home. It is worth bearing that in mind.

There is also a great little charity shop near work which is for a really small charity, one that I had never heard of. Their prices are also really really good in comparison to some of the others. I don’t know if it is because of the profile of the charity but it’s worth shopping around and sussing out the stores before you pick your favourites. This is particularly relevant if there are a lot more shops near you than you would have time to visit.

car boot sales are great places to get items to sell on

Top car boot sale flipping tips

There is no getting away from it, going to car boot sales requires an early start. At car boot sales I would say haggle away, but equally don’t go over the top. At the end of the day, the sellers are there to make some money. They don’t need to know you will be car boot sale flipping and are looking to sell the items on though.

If there is something in particular you are interested in (computer games, antiques, clothes etc) do some research before you go. I recommend sticking to things that you are interested in and will enjoy browsing for and researching. It will make it a more enjoyable experience as well as being more likely you will make a profit from your car boot sale flipping.

I recommend taking lots of plastic bags or shopping bags with you. Now there is a charge for plastic bags, the sellers have a lot less to start with and might be reluctant to part with them. Therefore it will make it harder for you to carry your purchases unless you come prepared. My trusty back pack with a pocket stuffed with bags for life is a life saver.

take bags to car boot sales

Much as the serious car boot sale buyers and flippers get there super early (I’ve had people looking in the car boot before we’ve even unloaded the car) there is something to be said for either coming later or browsing and then going for a drink or snack, and coming back and going around again during the last hour or so of the sale. If there is something specific you are looking for or are a serious collector, then you will need to go early, but if you stay until the end, buyers will be thinking about packing up and heading off. They will have been sat there for anything up to about 6-8 hours and they will be more likely to take a lower price just to get a quick sale and this is quite often when the real bargains can be snapped up. They will probably want less packing up to do. Also, if they take the items home they then have to store them or find another way to get rid of them. Another reason why you should hang around!

When I’ve been to car boot sales with my niece, she is often given stuff for free towards the end as the sellers see a cute kid and know the stuff will be going to a good home. I appreciate that not everyone has a cute kid on hand but it just goes to show that towards the end, sellers are getting more desperate and will take low prices, and even give away stuff for free!

I am genuinely surprised more people don’t go late to car boot sales, and buy up all the cheap stuff and the items that people really can’t be bothered to pack up again in order to resell them. Reselling is becoming more and more popular as a source of extra income and I genuinely think if you have the time and space (as well as some money to buy the first lot of items) that car boot sales could be a really good way to get started as it’s a similar business model to house clearance.

What about Jumble Trails?

A jumble trail is run in a neighbourhood or community, where each person involved has a stall outside their home. Jumble Trail get you to sign up via their website if you are taking part as a seller and then buyers can download a map and see where the stalls are. Buyers can then target specific stalls if they want (eg children’s stuff only or homewares) but I found a lack of detail on the description meant they were too vague to be of any use. Whilst I like the idea of a jumble trail, in practice it’s not quite so good as I hoped. My first dilemma was where was I going to park? All the stalls were all within a mile radius of the organiser’s address but there was no specific parking place. In the end I just parked in a residential road near to the address of someone I knew who was hosting a stall that day. As it was a Sunday it was free parking, but this may be a factor depending on when the sales are held and where. Buyers would need to check parking restrictions prior to the sale.

Car boot sales v Jumble trails

The pros of car boot sales

  • All in one place
  • Plenty of parking
  • Toilets and catering available
  • Rows and rows of stalls

The cons of car boot sales

Have to pay to get in

The pros of jumble trails

  • Free for buyers
  • Map available showing what is being sold and where

The cons of jumble trails

  • Very spaced out
  • Not effective use of time
  • No specific parking available
  • No toilets or catering

whatever you are interested in, car boot sales can be great places to get bargains


I really like the idea of a Jumble Trail but in reality I was a little disappointed. Whereas at the car boot sale there was stall after stall of items, on the trail you would look at one stall, then you would look at the map and head off, often walking for quie a while before coming to the next stall. I love the concept but I just don’t know that it works. Perhaps if the area covered was smaller or the stalls were closer together I may have enjoyed it more but it just ended up feeling like I was walking around the streets aimlessly and I didn’t even find anything I wanted to buy. Another dilemma was what if I had found something I wanted to buy but it was quite large? Did I carry it back to the car there and then or carry on whilst carrying it? I didn’t want to keep moving the car (although I guess if you didn’t want to do the walking then that would be an option) and to be honest I got quite bored quite quickly.

Perhaps the sellers got more out of it – they had a later start than those who would be selling at a car boot, and obviously people without access to a vehicle would not be able to take their items to a car boot sale, so I guess this is a great option for them.

Overall I definitely preferred the traditional car boot sale, but I can see that both have benefits, and if the jumble trail movement picks up and more people are involved, I can see it being a lot more successful.

Other places to source second hand goods for flipping and reselling

  • eBay flipping follows the same principals. You can do your research about what is selling and at what price, and then browse for bargains. Just remember to budget for postage and packaging costs on top of any purchase which doesn’t have free postage. Beware of items which are in the traditional auction format – these can end up with last minute bidding wars. Buy it now items will guarantee the price you are paying, and some items maybe eligible for you to submit an offer on.
  • Facebook Marketplace is another great place to source second hand items, all available from local sellers. Just ensure you maintain social distancing on collection and let someone know where you are going
  • Gumtree – a free to advertise website
  • Shpock – free to advertise app also links to your Facebook account
  • Jumble sales – keep an eye out on local notice boards (online and physical noticeboards in venues such as churches, leisure centres, town halls etc)

General buy to sell tips

  • Check the items over thoroughly before you buy them.
  • Don’t give in to the hard sell (“Oh it’s really valuable” etc – do your research).
  • Only buy something you are sure about – listen to your gut.
  • Don’t buy something for a price you aren’t happy about.
  • Research postage and shipping costs of the items you are looking at buying before selling them on. This is an easy way to make a loss!
  • If you are regularly buying things to sell on, remember you need to inform HMRC and declare your extra earnings.

If you decide that flipping is something you want to get involved in, there are plenty of resources online to help you decide what to look for to sell on for a profit.

Have a read and let me know if you find any bargains and make some amazing profits!

9 Replies to “Charity shop and car boot sale flipping”

    • I love them too-just not confident enough to spend money on things that I might not be able to sell on. Maybe if I had more time to research, but currently every minute is spent on this site.

  • This is something that I really want to get into this year! There are no car boot sales open near me for a few more months though, but I’ve been buying some stock, and slowly but surely listing it! When I’ve got the money back then I will go and buy some more 🙂

    • Smaller, independent charity shops are often cheaper. The larger chain ones, have people go through and pick out the more valuable stuff before they go for sale.
      I’ve just started, but have sold a fair bit in my 1st month on Ebay-totally over £500 very part-time. Facebook Marketplace is great. Just had a large sweet tin full of costume jewellery for £5 and on looking through, found a sterling silver (925) Bangle, which is currently on for sale at £18.00 inc P+P – I will clear £14, almost tripling the cost of the entire collection. Good luck

  • I used to be a really keen charity shop shopper but I’m guilty of not entering one recently. I used to love rummaging through the rails for bargains. Something I should do again!

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