How To Make Money at a Second Hand Market


Need to make some money, fast? Want some motivation to clean out that wardrobe crammed with clothes you never wear? Need some extra money to save or pay off debt?

We all know how lucrative selling unwanted stuff can be. If you’re at home now, cast your eye around the room and I bet you spy at least ten things that you would happily part with for the right price. But when you’re over selling your stuff online or don’t have a garage to hold a garage sale, then selling your stuff at a second hand market can be a great way to declutter and make a bit of money at the same time.

There are a few little tricks and things to know when looking to sell your stuff at a car boot sale, second hand market or trash & treasure. If you’ve never done it before, it can be a little daunting, but I’m here to show you that it’s not that hard to make a few hundred dollars (or more) for a morning’s work.

How to Make Money At a Second Hand Market

1. Sort out your stash

The first thing you’ll want to do is work out what items you want to sell. If you’re anything like me, you probably have a heap of clothes you never wear, books you’ll never read again (I’m looking at you, first year text books), and a whole heap of games, DVDs and electronics that you are just oh-ver.

Grab a few boxes and start putting aside all the things you might want to sell. Think beyond the bedroom and living room, and sort through all your cupboards, drawers, basements and attics to hunt all those things you put away for ‘some day’. One thing I’ve learned is that people buy the weirdest things at the market. We sold a peg basket, makeup and old textbooks in the past. The more you take to the market, the more money you could potentially make.

2. Scope and reconnaissance

Once you’ve sorted your stuff, you’ll want to decide which market to sell it at. There’s probably a few nearby and you can generally just search them out on Google. Even medium size towns generally run a car boot sale or regular trash and treasure market. Bigger towns and cities will have a few different events. These are usually organised by charity or rotary groups and the stall fees are used for community programs.

Visit a few potential markets and suss out the type of items being sold there and the average prices. Also note how many people are visiting the market and which sections are the busiest. Chat to a few stall holders selling similar things to what you have. They’ll probably be happy to tell you general things about how well they do at that market and the types of things that are popular.

Once you’ve decided on the market, book a stall, pop the date in your diary and start getting excited to make some money.

3. Pack and prepare

The day before the market pack up your car – you don’t want to be rushing around doing this in the morning in case you forget something. Remember to bring:

  • Racks, tables and coathangers – you may be able to hire all this stuff at the market. Make sure you check beforehand. Otherwise pack your own to save some money.
  • Snacks and water – it’s going to be a long morning so make sure you’ve got plenty of snacks and water to keep you going.
  • Change, change, change – you’ll want to make sure you have plenty of change in different denominations, as well as a shoulder bag or bum bag to stash it in.
  • Chair – bring a fold up chair or stool. You will thank me after two hours on your feet.

4. On the day – make sales and prosper

Make sure you get to the market early. Serious dealers will get there first thing to scope out deals and pick out the best stuff so you want to make sure that you are set up as soon as possible.

I like to price my stuff before market day. That way if I’m a bit tired or flustered I still remember what price I wanted for certain things. The other option is to leave prices off everything and have customers ask you for the price. But if things get a bit busy then you may be overwhelmed by people asking you questions from all directions.

What ever way you decide to price, make sure that you price to sell. Be realistic. Sure, you may think that Happy Days box set is a collectors piece, but you’re probably not going to find a buyer willing to pay a motza to relive Fonzie’s shark-jumping escapades. Price low and make the sale.

You should also be prepare to haggle with buyers. Some people will happily pay the requested price (particularly if it’s reasonable to begin with). But other people love to haggle no matter what the marked cost. Make sure that you stay pleasant, but remember you don’t have to accept an insultingly low offer just to make a sale. Stay firm if the buyer is offering you an unreasonable price. They may just come up to your price in the end.

Just before the market closes be prepared for some serious haggling. If you don’t want to cart all your stuff back home then drop your prices and get stuff off the racks. Lots of buyers wait around to market close just to snap up the last minute bargains.

5. Pack up and leave (lighter and richer)

Once the market is closed, pack up all your stuff and return anything you’ve hired to the coordinators. Some markets will have a charity bin or section where you can leave items that you don’t want to take home. Otherwise you can box your leftovers up until the next time you sell at a market.

Other tips

• Selling at a market is way more fun when done with a friend. Send out an email to your local friends or pop a message on Facebook and organise a group to share a stall and sell together.
• Watch your stuff. Just like in life, there are unscrupulous people at second hand markets. Don’t place small or valuable items at the front of your stall where you can’t see them. Never put your money bag down anywhere – keep it on you at all times. Stash your other personal belongings in a bag tied to a table leg or rack.
• Above all maintain a friendly attitude and have fun.

This post was first published on 20 September 2013.

Nell is a freelance writer and blogger living in Australia. Nell writes about personal finance at The Million Dollar Diva. For more information on her writing services, click the Hire Me page.


  1. 2

    Thirtysixmonths says

    My first choice would be to sell online and second would be a garage sale. Taking part in a second hand market is now another great option. Thanks for sharing. Time to look for one or two near my area.

  2. 3


    Thirtysixmonths thanks for stopping by. I live in an apartment so no garage sales for me. And I find selling online can be more hassle than it’s worth – what with taking photos, listing, monitoring the auctions and posting out the items. Selling at a second hand market is usually just a bit of prep and half a days work and you can end up with quite a bit of money. 
    Let me know how you go finding a local market.

  3. 4


    Suburban Finance it’s funny, I didn’t think to sell at one for ages, even though I like visiting markets on the weekend. But then I just decided to go for it and book a stall. I convinced some friends to go in with me and after that it was easy.

  4. 5


    What great ways to prepare for a sale! I think knowing what to expect is important if you aren’t used to or comfortable with haggling over prices. Getting organized before the sale should really help the day to run smoother and be less stressful.

    • 6


      Yep, I always think you should suss out the market as a buyer before getting a stall to sell. You want to get an idea of what sells, and how much haggling is expected.

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