I can get it for you wholesale . . .: You're delighted because you bought a quartz watch for pounds 1 at a car-boot sale? It cost 35p. John Windsor looks at the lucrative world of market trading

As car-boot sales and weekend markets proliferate, do you ever wonder where the increasingly professional traders get their goods from? How can they sell shirts for half the shop price and still earn enough to drive Range Rovers? The answer lies in the back pages of trade magazines and newspapers.

Once these publications were the fiercely guarded preserve of professional traders. Only they could buy goods at wholesale prices in wholesale quantities. But the recession and the metamorphosis in shopping patterns has changed all that.

Many hard-pressed high-street clothing and household wholesalers in London's Whitechapel and Brick Lane have abandoned the traditional pounds 100 'minimum spend' which kept out retail customers. This takes the pressure off traders to hold large quantities of stock, while also opening the doors to any buyer with pounds 50 to spend.

Some wholesalers are brazenly cashing in on their new-found retail market. Clothing wholesalers in Narborough Road, Leicester, switch from wholesale to retail on Saturdays, raising prices by 25 per cent. It is a topsy-turvey world. As Glenn Mabey, publisher of the Trader, says: 'Everyone is trying to make money without offending their core business. It is a juggling act.'

Meanwhile, professional traders have invaded the amateurs' car-boot sales, once the preserve of those basking in a villagey bring-and-buy atmosphere. The lure for professionals is low rent (a fiver a day instead of pounds 20- pounds 25 for a market pitch), lack of local-authority traders' registration and, for some, the ease of palming off stolen goods.

What was to have been the country's first all-night car-boot sale - banned one Saturday last month by a court injunction granted to Tower Hamlets council - was for professional 'booters' who, having traded in markets all week, needed to spend the daylight hours of Saturday buying stock.

Trade publications now carry advertisements for packages of goods priced pounds 30 to pounds 100, suitable not only for market traders but for amateur booters and 'planners' - organisers of Tupperware-style home sales.

Sale-or-return is common. Clothing is still the biggest market, but the latest fads include aromatherapy oils and natural cosmetics.

Every month, the Trader (circulation 30,000) publishes up to 300 pages of wholesale stock advertisements. One Essex wholesaler (adhering to the 'trade only, minimum pounds 100' tradition) offers loo rolls at 36 for pounds 4 - giving a pounds 5 profit at the market-stall price of four for pounds 1. Black bin-bags - pounds 21.25 per 1,000 - sell for pounds 50 if packaged at 10 for 50p. Fancy earrings, selling in markets for pounds 1 each, cost pounds 18.75 for 100 or pounds 124.99 for 1,000 through a trade press advertisement.

If you thought your disposable lighter or tube of superglue was cheap at 50p, Trader advertisers offer lighters for 10p each (with unspecified 'bulk discounts') and tubes of superglue at 22p each. Sunglasses can be had for pounds 299 per gross wholesale, complete with revolving display unit and tags proclaiming prices such as pounds 15.99 and pounds 18.99. As for quartz watches: you think pounds 1 is cheap? Cheapest wholesale price is 35p.

Amateur booters itching to invade the professionals' ground in real markets now find 'getting on' (getting a pitch) easier because the number of markets has risen by 20 per cent in five years, to about 1,200. Private operators have led the expansion. They now control 30 per cent of markets, some formerly under local authority control.

Successful traders are coining it. The Trader found that 8 per cent of the market traders it surveyed had an annual turnover of pounds 100,000 or more and half of them turned over more than pounds 20,000. No wonder high-street retail sales are languishing.

The market traders' traditional read is the original trade newspaper, World's Fair (circulation 27,000, published with Market Trader and CoinSlot). The weekly free papers Marketeer and Discount Trader and the monthly Wholesaler have circulations of 31,000 and 6,000. The biggest growth area in market-trade publishing is guides to the country's 1,000 factory shops (see below), another recession-inspired wholesale market serving both traders and retail buyers, which is dominating retailing in the United States.

Many suppliers agree not to sell store-commissioned designs elsewhere for six months. But there is nothing to stop them calling them 'seconds' - without the big-name label. Other suppliers are simply exploiting 'direct sales' as a lucrative new market.

David Glasby, secretary of the Association of Private Market Operators, buys the clothes he wears - at a fraction of high-street store prices - from the very factories that supply the stores. Among his bargains, all bought in small numbers: shirts by Coats Viyella at pounds 1.99 each and a pounds 9.50 cotton dressing gown which in the high street would cost pounds 29.50.

Industrial and commercial auctions also offer cheap gear. At a liquidation sale in Queensbury, West Yorkshire, Mr Glasby bid pounds 170 for enough magazines and books to fill a double garage - including Playboy and body-building mags - which later raised pounds 2,000 retail. Only half a dozen people attended the sale.

Magazines: The Trader: pounds 1.40, subscriptions (0202 445000); World's Fair, Market Trader and Shopkeeper, CoinSlot, 60p weekly for all three, subscriptions (061-624 3687); Marketeer and Discount Trader, free, pounds 16.50 annual postage; The Wholesaler, free, pounds 6 annual postage (0604 710722); Government Auction News, monthly, pounds 39.50 a year; The Wholesale and Direct Buyer's Guide, pounds 12.95 inc p&p (071-734 8291/4). Auction News, weekly, pounds 75 a year (0332 551300).

Factory shops: The Factory Shop Guide, 10 editions: British regions pounds 3.95 or pounds 4.50 plus p&p (071-622 3722). The Ultimate Bargain Hunters' Handbook, pounds 12.95 - pounds 11 inc p&p to Independent readers (081-429 3030).

Start your day with The Independent, sign up for daily news emails
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Finacial products from our partners
Property search
Thorn in our side? Some in the pension industry are warning of chaos in the run-up to 6 April

Simon Read: "Pension freedom is months away but if we don't act soon, the freedom may be to make an expensive mistake with our future"

The introduction of the new pension freedoms has been "alarmingly chaotic", reckons Nigel Green, chief executive of the financial consultancy deVere Group, He said this week: "The implementation of changes appears to be being rushed in a cynical attempt to woo older voters ahead of May's election."

The total bill for the scandal could top £24billion

City Watchdog to investigate banks' handling of PPI compensation claims

There has been continued criticism of banks' delaying tactics and failure to find those affected by by the UK’s biggest-ever financial mis-selling scandal

The new rules will come into effect on 6 April

Pension firms must ask consumers more questions, says City Watchdog

Companies will be required to ask about health and lifestyle choices or marital status, to protect consumers who do not take up the government’s offer of the Pension Wise guidance guarantee service

Simon Read: Frozen in time - the expat British pensioners who deserve a better deal

I had dinner with the pensions minister Steve Webb this week. There was a wide-ranging discussion about the new pensions freedoms starting in April, and changes to the state pension. Crucially, I also got to ask Mr Webb whether he had any plans to have another look at the injustice that is frozen pensions.

Number of serially under-performing investment funds has increased by a fifth, survey reveals

The new Spot the Dog survey shows that even famous fund managers, holding billions of pounds of our money, can make mistakes

Mark Dampier: We always bring down Britain. But there's plenty in the tank

While the health of the economy is not insignificant, Mark Dampier finds it incredibly unpredictable in terms of its impact on the stock market

If you haven’t switched supplier or tariff in the last 12 months then you could almost certainly save money by doing so

There are easier ways to save hundreds on your energy bills

A new free app is aimed at the three-fifths of Brits who have never switched supplier

Worse hit are loyal customers with long-standing accounts – their loyalty is rewarded with lower interest rates than more recently-launched accounts

Savers are being let down by banks and building societies, says Financial Conduct Authority

Regulator’s investigation into the market found that around £160bn was held in easy access savings accounts that pay interest lower or equal to BoE base rate

What to do if you're facing repossession: However far you fall, you're not on your own

Helen Fisher had to become a 24-hour carer, and then she faced repossession. But going to the right places for help changed everything, writes Simon Read

Simon Read: Information is power. And it's in the wrong hands when people are cold-called by companies that know they're in debt

In debt? You're likely to be targeted by unscrupulous companies that hope to profit from your misfortune. They may try to pretend to be your friend by offering what they call "help" – but almost certainly that help will come with a cost and leave you worse off than you were before they got in touch.

Mark Dampier: So you've got pension freedom... will it end up as a cold shower?

In less than three months' time radical changes to pensions will take effect, providing investors with more freedom. Yet for those who prefer to make their own investment decisions, the choice of funds available is overwhelming. And an income drawdown account is also not particularly easy to manage.

The move marks the culmination of a long campaign by debt charities and insolvency firms and follows a call for evidence launched by the Minister last August

Bankruptcy rules to change, Business Minister announces

The minimum amount for which you can be forced into bankruptcy is being raised from £750 to £5,000

Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

ES Rentals

    iJobs Job Widget
    iJobs Money & Business

    Recruitment Genius: Software Development Manager

    £40000 - £50000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This is an exciting opportunity...

    Ashdown Group: Product Manager - (Product Marketing, Financial Services)

    £30000 - £35000 per annum + Benefits: Ashdown Group: Marketing Manager - Marke...

    Recruitment Genius: Compliance Assistant

    £13000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This Pension Specialist was established ...

    Ashdown Group: Market Research Executive

    £23000 - £26000 per annum + Benefits: Ashdown Group: Market Research Executive...

    Day In a Page

    As in 1942, Germany must show restraint over Greece

    As in 1942, Germany must show restraint over Greece

    Mussolini tried to warn his ally of the danger of bringing the country to its knees. So should we, says Patrick Cockburn
    Britain's widening poverty gap should be causing outrage at the start of the election campaign

    The short stroll that should be our walk of shame

    Courting the global elite has failed to benefit Britain, as the vast disparity in wealth on display in the capital shows
    Homeless Veterans appeal: The rise of the working poor: when having a job cannot prevent poverty

    Homeless Veterans appeal

    The rise of the working poor: when having a job cannot prevent poverty
    Prince Charles the saviour of the nation? A new book highlights concerns about how political he will be when he eventually becomes king

    Prince Charles the saviour of the nation?

    A new book highlights concerns about how political he will be when he eventually becomes king
    How books can defeat Isis: Patrick Cockburn was able to update his agenda-setting 'The Rise of Islamic State' while under attack in Baghdad

    How books can defeat Isis

    Patrick Cockburn was able to update his agenda-setting 'The Rise of Islamic State' while under attack in Baghdad
    Judith Hackitt: The myths of elf 'n' safety

    Judith Hackitt: The myths of elf 'n' safety

    She may be in charge of minimising our risks of injury, but the chair of the Health and Safety Executive still wants children to be able to hurt themselves
    The open loathing between Barack Obama and Benjamin Netanyahu just got worse

    The open loathing between Obama and Netanyahu just got worse

    The Israeli PM's relationship with the Obama has always been chilly, but going over the President's head on Iran will do him no favours, says Rupert Cornwell
    French chefs get 'le huff' as nation slips down global cuisine rankings

    French chefs get 'le huff' as nation slips down global cuisine rankings

    Fury at British best restaurants survey sees French magazine produce a rival list
    Star choreographer Matthew Bourne gives young carers a chance to perform at Sadler's Wells

    Young carers to make dance debut

    What happened when superstar choreographer Matthew Bourne encouraged 27 teenage carers to think about themselves for once?
    Design Council's 70th anniversary: Four of the most intriguing prototypes from Ones to Watch

    Design Council's 70th anniversary

    Four of the most intriguing prototypes from Ones to Watch
    Dame Harriet Walter: The actress on learning what it is to age, plastic surgery, and her unease at being honoured by the establishment

    Dame Harriet Walter interview

    The actress on learning what it is to age, plastic surgery, and her unease at being honoured by the establishment
    Art should not be a slave to the ideas driving it

    Art should not be a slave to the ideas driving it

    Critics of Tom Stoppard's new play seem to agree that cerebral can never trump character, says DJ Taylor
    Bill Granger recipes: Our chef's winter salads will make you feel energised through February

    Bill Granger's winter salads

    Salads aren't just a bit on the side, says our chef - their crunch, colour and natural goodness are perfect for a midwinter pick-me-up
    England vs Wales: Cool head George Ford ready to put out dragon fire

    George Ford: Cool head ready to put out dragon fire

    No 10’s calmness under pressure will be key for England in Cardiff
    Michael Calvin: Time for Old Firm to put aside bigotry and forge new links

    Michael Calvin's Last Word

    Time for Old Firm to put aside bigotry and forge new links