Great Britain

Savvy shopper cleared his £12k debt by reselling car boot and charity shop finds

DAD-OF-THREE George Ross repaid £12,000 debt in two years by reselling clothes, furniture and toys from car boot sales, charity shops and auctions.

The 30-year-old from Essex now earns £35,000 a year from his business on eBay and Facebook Marketplace.

George said that he began to struggle paying the bills after he moved to Chelmsford with his wife, Amy, in 2010.

Finding it difficult to get full-time work, he picked up odd jobs he didn’t enjoy to try and make ends meet.

It was in 2014 - when his wife picked up a full-time job and he stayed home to look after their children - when George first began to sell old junk around the house to make some extra cash.

He sold the majority of his Power Ranger and Ninja Turtle toy collection on eBay for £600.

After seeing how much money he could make, George began to scour car boot sales around his local area, hunting for retro toys, buying them for as little as 50p, and reselling them on eBay for up to £30.

In 2016, he married Amy, and as a wedding present, his new wife lent him £500 so he had enough cash to set up a proper business.

Watching daytime TV programmes such as Flog It, Bargain Hunt and Cash in the Attic also helped him pick up tips to turn his hobby into a career.

By the summer of 2018 - just over two years later - George had cleared his debts completely. 

Now, he rakes in up to £55,000 a year, making a profit of £35,000 as a professional reseller. He even rents out a massive 175sq ft storage unit to keep his stock in.

George shares his top tips on how he went from struggling with money to making thousands.

Flog your old junk

You shouldn’t rush into buying lots of stock from car boot sales and then try and flog it - otherwise you might not be able to sell it on and be left out of pocket, George said.

Instead, you should start by looking in your own home for stuff to sell on.

“Any DVDs, toys or trainers could be sold on ebay or Facebook Marketplace, for example," he said.

It means you don’t have to fork out cash on buying bits to sell on - which beginners might struggle to do if they lack experience.

How to spot a bargain

Don’t think that your old junk is useless - it could be a valuable or collectable item for someone else.

But if you’re finding it hard to sift through your tatt, George said to look out for a number of items that are usually always in demand.

“Look for big brand names such as Nike trainers and electronics like Bose,” he said.

“Things that aren’t made any more like video players, old mobile phones and consoles sell well - especially SAGA and Nintendo.

“Anything old and vintage could be sold on for a good price, such as old typewriters.”

Head to auctions and car boots

If you’ve stripped your house and you’re looking for fresh places to hunt for bargains to sell on, George said auctions and car boot sales can be “full of hidden treasures”.

His biggest bargains came from car boot sales.

“I picked up a Rupert the Bear charity box that would have been placed on a shop counter or inside a church, for £50 from a car boot sale in 2018.

“I went back home, put it on eBay and sold it for £750.”

He also picked up a box of collectable pens from an auction in 2019, and sold them all on individually - making a total of £1,600.

Sell bits around Christmas

George said that his “busiest” time of the year when he sells the most is around Christmas, when Brits are stocking up on presents for the festive season.

During this point, George said he can make up to £6,000 a month.

This is when you should think about putting your unwanted household items up for sale.

However, George has to keep on a tight budget when it comes to “slower” trading months - which are usually from January to March.

“This is when people don’t want to buy as much stuff,” he said. “During these months, I don’t buy as much stock from car boots or auctions so I can keep my spending down.”

Beware of hidden costs

George makes up to £6,000 a month from reselling items - but while that sounds like a lot of money, he warns that a lot of hidden costs are involved.

In total, George forks out around £2,000 a month on buying new stock, paying for listing and delivery fees for his items, and renting out space to store his goods.

If you use eBay to sell your bits on, then you’ll have to pay a 12.8% seller’s fee and a 30p transaction charge on every item you sell.

While Etsy, another platform George sometimes uses to flog his stuff on, charges you $0.20 (£0.14) to list your item and a 5% transaction fee.

To avoid coughing up for these fees, you can use sites like Facebook Marketplace and Instagram to advertise your hauls without paying any charges.

George also pays £350 in rent per month for his 175sq ft storage unit which stores all his bits in - as he “quickly outgrew the garden shed”, he said.

How to spot a fake

Sometimes, bargains really are too good to be true.

George said that it’s easy to buy things off the internet that are actually fake - he’s done it a few times himself.

“I picked up a pair of Nike trainers for £10, but when I took a closer look, I wasn’t sure if they were real,” he said.

But there are a number of tricks he used to check whether it was fake or not - which he says is really important to make sure you’re not selling the dodgy item on to another person.

“Nike trainers usually have a code on the inside of the tongue of the shoe,” he said.

“When you type the code into Google and hit search, you’ll usually be listed with links to the shoes.

“But the code on the pair of shoes I picked up didn’t list the correct item - so I knew it was a fake.”

Joining special Facebook groups and asking members for advice on items you’re unsure about can help you gage whether you’ve unwittingly picked up a fake.

“I’m part of an action figure identification Facebook group, and a specialist mid-century furniture group too,” George said.

“If you upload a picture and post details about the item, you’ll usually get an answer to your questions.”

You can also search for YouTube videos which give tutorials on how to spot fake branded items, George added.

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