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Car boot sales are a great place to pick up bargains, especially in this time of the credit crunch. However there are several boot sale buying pit-falls to avoid - including filling your house full of junk!
This Guide gives advice on electrical items at car boot sales as well as buying clothes, books, CD's, including the notorious counterfeit goods.
Firstly, I'd like all buyers to get to grips with the truth behind the old chestnut
'It was Sold as Seen'
Click here for a pop up window that reveals how Sold as Seen works at Car Boot Sales
Simply close the window after reading to continue.
Electrical equipment at Car Boot Sales. It is nearly impossible to test electrical items at a car boot sale. In some cases the equipment being sold may be broken, faulty or even dangerous. That's not to say that all equipment being sold at car boot sales is best avoided. If you do decide to buy electrical items, take the sellers phone number and details and agree on a refund if it's not working or adjust the price accordingly. If you are unsure on the saftey of an item then get a professional to inspect it before connecting it to the mains or better still, if your seriously concerned then don't buy it.
It is best to avoid buying things like electrical heated blankets or old electric heaters. Items that have a PAC sticker on (usually a green label with a date written on) will tell you that the item almost certainly came from a business at some point. The PAC sticker should tell you the last time the item was tested for electrical safety but in no way garuntees in condition.
If you are buying power tools at a car boot sale then check to see if they have any identifying marks. Sadly sometimes the stolen proceeds from garden sheds and builders commercial vehicles turn up at car boot sales. If there is an identifying mark on an item don't be afraid to ask the seller to repeat or explain it. If you unwittingly buy a stolen object at the car boot sale the police have the right to return it to it's correct owner without compensation to you.
The sniff test! When buying things like electric drills at a car boot sale it is worth a quick sniff to see if the motor smells burnt out! It does not matter how shiny and new looking an item is, if the motors burnt out then it's junk and a waste of money unless used for spares or repairs. Another test for electrical tools is to check if anything seems jammed up.
Before handing over your money carry out one final visual check to make sure you have not missed any obvious faults or repairs either on the item or on it's electrical lead. And finaly, make sure you get any adaptors or leads that should come with it!
Clothes at Car Boot Sales. Car boot sales are a fantastic place to get your clothes at a fraction of the high street price. If you are too snobby to buy seconhand don't be put off. Car boot sales are often crammed with brand new clothes that have just hung in a wardrobe and never been worn, often still with the tags on!
If your going to buy clothes at a car boot sale then have a good look to make sure that they are in good condition. There is nothing more infuriating then discovering a broken zip or rip when you get home. (unless you don't mind making the repairs.)
If your buying designer clothes - beware that they not fakes, often referred to as knock offs. They will be inferior and produced illegaly.
Keep an eye out for vintage clothes such as designer dresses and accessories. Some of them are now worth a fortune.
If your not a snob then car boot sales are a fantastic way to filling your warbrobe at a budget price.
Baby clothes at car boot sales. babies grow so fast that most seconhand baby clothes are almost as good as new and on offer at a fraction of the retail price. If you do buy baby clothes or baby accessories at a car boot sale then double check that they are suitable and safe.
CDs' & DVDs'. It's usually pretty easy to spot fake Compact discs and DVDs at a car boot sale due to the poor quality packaging and printing and of course they are often being knocked out at cheap prices. The sale of counterfeit goods is illegal and can carry serious penalities. It really is best to avoid these, not only are you helping the counterfeiters break the law but you are almost certainly purchasing inferior, poor quality items.
If you do spot someone selling counterfeit goods at a car boot sale don't be hesitate to point the seller out to the car boot sale orgainsers. The organisers of any serious car boot sale are working within the guidelines of trading standards and are dedicated to eradicating these illegal goods from there events.
When buying genuine second hand discs at a car boot sale make sure you check that the correct number of discs and items are in the sleeves and that they are not scratched or unplayable. Car boot sales are one the best places to source music and film media and a cheap alternative way of building great film and music libraries.
Books at Car Boot Sales - Leaf through the book to see if it looks as though pages are missing. There's nothing worse than getting to the climax of the plot only to find that the last five pages aren't there! Check for childish colouring efforts. If your buying the book as a treat for yourself then ask the seller if they have read it and there views on it, most of the time you'll get a first class and honest review! In most cases books are cheap at car boot sales and a great way to avoid paying high street prices and if cared for, you can resell them at a car boot sale at a later date for probably the same price!
Some rare and valuable books turn up at car boot sales and it's always worth checking the front inside page to see if your holding a first edition! If your buying a book at a car boot sale as a gift for someone do check its complete and that any price label can be removed without damaging the book.
One last top tip! It has been known that the older generation were fond of stashing cash between the pages of books! A flick through an old book at a car boot sale might be a lot more rewarding than you think!
Furniture, knicknacks and other bits and pieces at Car Boot Sales. Seriously, start by asking yourself if you actually want it! Think long and hard because it might not seem such a good idea when you get it home and you find it's the wrong size, colour, shape or just looks knaff. If buying furniture, get the seller's phone number, measure up and give them a call. Always check everything for signs of wear, tear, damage and dubious repairs. If it looks too good to be true, it probably is. Check for fire safety information - especially on stuff for children. Check for broken springs, doors that don't open etc - any seller who won't let you have a thorough inspection should not be trusted.
Food at Car Boot Sales. Food vans are generally the safest place to buy food at car boot sales. They are inspected and rated by the local health department.
Home made food, while appealing, may well not be up to any kind of food standards. If you buy it, you will be taking a risk and there will be no come back. If the food is covered, wrapped, kept out of the sun etc then it bodes well. Look long and hard at a food stall and see what signs of quality and foof handling are in place before you decide to buy.
Crime at car boot sales. Stolen goods are known to be disposed of through car boot fairs. Most commonly it will be the proceeds of petty thieving, items stolen from outhouses, garages etc. However, valuable antiques and missing stock deliveries have all been discovered by police at car boot sales. Check items for markings such as a postcode. If buying from a private individual ask them to repeat any postcode marked. If they can't, proceed with caution. Keep a look out for items where identifying mark (such as the name of the original owner) has been scratched out or obliterated. It may also pay to be wary of power tools etc which come without their original leads. If you suspect that any goods are stolen, contact your local police station.
Crime can also happen on more personal level as there are bustling crowds at car boot sales. Keep your valuables close to you and make sure you lock up your car when you leave it.
Other Car Boot Sale tips for buyers- wear suitable foot wear, many car boot sales are held on fields and rough ground. In the summer time car boot sales can get very hot, so a sun hat and sunglasses can be invaluable.
Arriving early usually gives you the best chance to get to the car boot sale bargains first. However, being last to leave is also a great way to grab those 'give away prices' as stall holders start to pack up and are hoping for final sales.
Not all stall holders have carrier bags so it's worth taking a couple of your own.
Take a tape measure for clothes and furniture. Take a pen and paper in case you want to note down a sellers phone number.
It also helps to have a decent amount of small change as many sellers quickly run out of change.
Car boot sales can be a lot of fun and a source of superb bargins, but you do have to apply a bit of common sense and a healthy dose of scepticism. Good Luck bargain hunting at your local car boot sale.