ONE man’s trash is another man’s treasure – and few know that better than professional car boot sale reseller Chris Hayden.
The former police officer, 44, turned his “side hustle” into a full-time business four years ago and now flogs up to £5,000 worth of items per month.
He started scouring car boot sales for toys to make money on Facebook Marketplace as a way to fund holidays back in 2015.
Four years into doing it part-time, he quit his job and now is better known as Car Boot Chris online.
Among his biggest wins was buying a rare Team USA Olympic Podium jacket for £4 and selling it on eBay for £225 – 56 times more than what he paid.
Now Chris, who lives near Rhyl, in Wales, tells The Sun reveals his top tips for finding items that could sell for a fortune and the pitfalls to avoid.
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Chris says a lot of research goes into finding out what items are worth and what sells well online – but shares a few handy tips for new starters.
“I would probably rely on looking for items you had in your childhood and you wish you still had now because some can be worth money,” he explains.
“For example, this weekend I picked up a Sony Walkman that was very similar to one from when I was growing up. I paid £1 for it and on eBay, they are worth around £50.
“If you had been able to keep all of those things you had as a child you could now be sitting on a pot of gold right now.”
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He claims retro video game consoles like the SEGA Mega Drive and certain Playstation 1 games “are worth good money” today too.
While it’s hard to predict what people will buy, Chris says newbies can take inspiration from popular culture.
He cites the new Barbie movie, which has already made $1billion at the box office, as an example of a trend-setting film that resellers can capitalise on.
Chris says: “I didn’t pick up any Barbie dolls myself but there are a lot of Eighties Barbies being sold on eBay right now.
“It’s definitely worth keeping half an eye on what’s going on in the real world in case there are things that might be worth jumping on.
“If there are talks of a remake for a classic film, like Gremlins, it may spark a revival in interest for those items.”
Vintage trainers are all the rage these days and Chris explains it's worth keeping an eye out for specific brands that are in good condition.
He says: “There’s good money in Nike and Adidas trainers but it depends on the brand, the colour and the version.
“If you’re unsure you can check the codes on the trainer label – if you type those in online you can get an idea of how much they are worth.
“It’s always worth checking if they have any holes in them or cracks on the toe because if they do it kills the value and isn’t worth the bother.”
Chris believes resellers develop a “sixth sense” for what will sell and advisors amateurs to stick to low-cost items.
“If you’re paying £1 to £3 there’s a fair chance the item will be worth more than that and the risk is low," he says.
“If you’re paying more than £10, I would do research there and then before buying it."
How to hunt
Chris typically goes to two car boot sales each weekend and sometimes will visit one mid-week too.
He prefers to take his time looking for items to sell and says fans of his YouTube channel often remark that he’s “too chilled”.
Chris says: “There can be up to 200 stores at a car boot sale so there’s plenty of stuff for everyone and no need to rush around really.
“If I was a niche seller who was only into games, I would go up to every stall and ask them if they have any games because that's what I’d need to survive.
“I’m an everything seller, so I’m chilled out and not worried about running around. I can take my time looking in the boxes and make sure I don't miss anything.”
Chris, who spends up to three hours at a car boot, arrives within the first half-hour of opening but admits locals often have the upper hand.
He adds: “It can be tricky if it’s a car boot sale I’ve never been to before. They may advertise their opening time but will have people there an hour before.”
Review unsold items
Most of Chris’s sales come through eBay and he uses their ‘Buy It Now’ option rather than risking being lowballed in a bidding auction.
To ensure most of his stockpile has sold within a six-month period, he reviews the price and the search terms he has used to list the product.
“I list what I think is a fair price on eBay and after two months will review it," he explains. "I may reduce the price and tinker with the title and the keywords.”
Put in the hours
Among Chris’s best buys was an Olympic jacket, which his wife spotted “hanging on the back of a car” at a car boot sale, before it sold for £225.
He says: “It was a really limited edition silver jacket and there was a small run for shops in the US, so for it to appear at a UK car boot sale was really weird.”
Another was a £50 hi-fi stacking system, which he sold in separate sections for a total of £530, and a £12 BMW helmet, which he flogged for £350.
Chris adds: “I once sold an empty tarot card box for £100. I think it cost me £2 and I didn’t know it was worth that much, sometimes it’s just pure luck and instinct.”
In his best months, he’s managed to make £5,000 of sales, before tax and deductions, and admits he’s able to make “an average salary” from his work.
Chris explains that being a full-time reseller isn’t as easy as it seems and requires a lot of commitment.
He says: “I must put more than 60 hours a week into my business – I sit at my desk listing items and send them out from Monday to Friday and then on weekends I go to car boot sales.
“People come into it thinking it’s really easy but there’s a lot to it like dealing with customer inquiries, making deals and looking at stock.”
For those just starting out, Chris recommends selling belongings first to build up money to spend on stock and also to get used to using eBay.
He says: “If you want to go into it full-time, you need to have a bit of money behind you as your cash flow can disappear fast.
“Some stock will take months to sell, so it’s worth having saved up three or four months minimum for what you need to pay in bills.
One of the most common mistakes Chris sees is professional resellers forgetting to make themselves a legitimate business.
By not doing so they could be stung by a giant tax bill as well as potentially banned from eBay for not declaring themselves as a business.
He says: “A lot of people who start out doing this professional forget that they need to pay tax, register with HMRC and register with eBay as a business.
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“If you’re selling your own stuff you should be fine but if you’re a private seller who is going to car boot sales you need to be registered.”
Chris has a YouTube series Cookie & The Hayden's – UK eBay Reseller and shares tips on Instagram at Car Boot Chris.
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