Student makes hundreds of pounds flipping clothes he buys at car boot sales

Joseph McCreath, 19, loves a car boot sale, and has created an impressive, profitable business from his love of bargains.

The student makes a generous amount of extra cash to help alongside his part-time restaurant job by going to car boot sales every weekend, and flipping clothing he finds online.

The teenager started this journey back in May this year. His lucrative thrift-and-flip business all started when he bought two football shirts from a charity shop for £8 and was able to sell them on ebay for £90, pocketing himself a nice £82. 

Joseph, who studies business management and entrepreneurship at Nottingham Trent University said: ‘I sold one for £25 and one for £65, and I thought why can’t I do this on a larger scale?

‘I liked the idea of going to car boot sales where you can buy stuff for really cheap.’ 

Four months down the line, he regularly hunts down bargain items for a couple of pounds and sells them on through eBay, Depop and Vinted.

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‘The first month [of the business] was a write-off,’ he said. ‘As I built up my stock and social media following and positive reviews, which really impact the success of online selling.’

Now he’s bringing in a whole other income through selling clothes on.

‘I sell clothes on Depop, eBay and Vinted, but I am struggling with cross-listing, which is really time consuming, so I’m trying to figure out the best platform to sell it on – I think Depop is the best one to scale a business on.’

Sometimes Joseph tries scouring for bargains in charity shops too, but finds car boots are the best.

‘[Charity shops are] just a little bit more expensive, with the rise of popularity of vintage clothing,’ he noted.

With people across the UK struggling in the cost of living crisis, Joseph thinks this could be a simple, fun way for others to bring in cash just like he is.

Plus, a car boot visit is a cheap activity to do on the weekends. 

The teenager said: ‘Clothes at a car boot sale aren’t displayed nice, they’re all piled up, but if I dig through it all, I can find these gems, take them back, iron them, display them nice, photograph them and sell them on for a bit more.’

He says how much money you can make from thrifting and flipping is a bit up and down, though.

‘How much money you can make depends on if you find a big item or not,’ he explained. ‘In one day, I reckon I turn £50 at a car boot sale into about £300 to £400 profit.’

His best car boot find yet? A vintage 80s AVIREX leather jacket, which he bought for just £5. He then sold this online for £160, bringing in a huge £155 profit.

For Joseph, flipping car boot sale finds felt like a natural step because of his lifelong passion for clothing.

To up his chances of cashing in, he searches for designer brands hidden in piles of clothes at car boot sales and keeps on top of what items are trending on Depop so he can search for similar clothes.

‘I look for branded stuff mainly, so Nike, Adidas, and designer stuff, but also the material,’ he said. ‘Trending products now are linen trousers, cargo trousers, denim mini skirts.

‘It’s not only the branded stuff, it’s the material too and what style is trending.’ 

He also does a lot of research for what trends are coming up next, so he can search in advance.

‘I’m in a Discord group which discusses trending products, what is selling, what isn’t, and I look at what searches are trending on Depop,’ he explained.

‘Hoodies for autumn are the most searched item at the moment, so next time I go to a car boot sale, I’ll be looking for hoodies.’

Business has surged for the student and his vintage shop, Joe’s Vintage Threads, has sold over 100 items on Depop since May 2022 and holds a five star rating. 

He’s currently selling the clothes out of his family home in Coventry, and said: ‘My friends and family like what I do – although my mum isn’t best pleased with all the clothes in the front room with boxes all over the place! But they like the desire I have and the vision I’ve got.’

With business going well, Joe is keen to continue growing his shop while completing his degree and loves seeing people become more sustainable with their purchases.

‘I’m really enjoying it at the minute,’ he added. ‘If I can carry on that mindset of enjoying it, it doesn’t really feel like a job – it doesn’t feel like going to a car boot sale at 5AM is work.

‘I really want to get hold of a supplier, like a wholesaler who can sell me bales of clothes that I can search through rather than going to car boot sales.

‘I reckon I do have the potential to scale it even further.

‘It’s just finding the time and getting a website together.

‘I know people who have scaled doing this kind of thing to six figures, so there’s no reason why I can’t do it too, if I really want it.’

‘I’m really excited to see what happens in the future.”

Joe says he has always been passionate about buying secondhand clothing and thinks everyone should try it.

‘Someone who hasn’t bought second hand before might think the clothes are dirty, someone else has worn them, but there’s this whole thing about sustainability which I like,’ he said.

‘Buying second hand means that one piece of clothing won’t go to the ocean.’

He reckons that, by 2025, vintage clothing ‘will be more popular than single use clothing’ and the high street. 

He wants others to join in and start thrifting to make extra cash, especially while basic expenses and cost of living prices keep hiking.

‘I like showing tips to people on how easy it is and how they can do it too,’ he added.

‘Not everyone works on a Sunday, so [if you do have it off], visiting car boot sales and selling on your finds is a great way to make some extra money on the weekend with everyone struggling in the cost of living crisis.’

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