Hi everyone! I hope you’ve had a great week. Do you look forward to the weekend like I do, primarily because it’s garage and estate saling time?!! One aspect of vintage shopping that I haven’t spoken much about is the fine art of haggling. People often wonder how I manage to get such
good great deals, and one of my most important tricks is dickering for a lower price. Most people who hold garage sales expect a bit of back and forth with potential buyers, so you don’t have to worry at all about offending anyone. The worst thing you’ll hear is “no” or very occasionally an impatient “no,” but it’s well worth the risk. Today I’m going to give you a few hints on how to haggle like a rock star. My tips promise to help antique dealers, collectors, and home decorators alike.
I have seven helpful tips that you can put in to practice immediately and start saving money when you’re out in the wild doing some vintage shopping. Who wouldn’t want to save a few dollars here and there–all the more cash to buy vintage and antiques with, right?
1. Be friendly.
Serious antique buyers, especially antique dealers, have a reputation for being rude and pushy. I think this is generally undeserved and comes from a small minority of genuinely rude and pushy people who show up early at sales and leave a bad taste in the mouths of those holding the sales. When you greet the sellers with a “Hi” and a smile, you are building a rapport with them that will serve you later when you feel the need to haggle. I usually add something about the weather, like “Nice day” or “Too bad about the rain” or sometimes “How’s your sale been going?”
The adage, you can catch more flies with sugar than vinegar is absolutely true–in life and when haggling. And in the worst case scenario, when a seller responds impatiently or unhappily, you keep your smile, hold your temper, and simply respond, “No worries” or “I had to try, right?” And then either buy the item or say, “Thanks anyway,” and move on to the next sale on your list. Burning bridges with anyone you meet along your vintage journey is never a good idea–always keep your cool and you’ll have no regrets.
2. Be fair.
As you begin to look at items you might want to haggle over, consider whether the price may already be much lower than the item’s value. For example, if you find a pair of vintage, 14K gold earrings for $1.00, you don’t need to haggle. Pay the dollar and be thrilled with your amazing deal.
However, if something priced at let’s say, five dollars, is higher than you’d like to pay, then go ahead and ask the seller if s/he will take three dollars. “Yes?” Awesome. “No, how about four?” Now you have to decide if that price is low enough for you. If yes, then hand over the moola. If no, then walk away. Some people, if unhappy with the counter-offer, will come back again with another of their own. In this case, they might say, “How about $3.50?” That’s not usually a game I like to play, but it’s certainly within the bounds of good haggling etiquette.
If items are unpriced, then I’ll ask for prices on a couple of things to get the flavor of their pricing strategy. If the prices are too high to even haggle over, then I just leave, but if my idea of a reasonable offer is not too far removed from their quote, I’ll give that a try. Try to follow the Golden Rule in all of your dealings with sellers, but especially regarding money matters.
3. Point out defects.
Don’t be afraid to remark on or point out any defects in an item you’re interested in. The seller may have been unaware and improperly priced it, and therefore may be willing to lower the price. But follow tip #1–be friendly about it! You don’t want to accuse the seller of misrepresentation or make them feel bad about having a defective item in their sale. Simply point it out and either suggest a lower price or ask for their “best price.” Something like, “I really like this basket, but it has a small hole right here, would you consider taking X amount?” The worst thing they can do is say no. Don’t take it personally and walk away.
4. Have the cash in your hand.
I find that having the exact amount of cash that I plan to offer for an item in my hand, often has the effect of convincing the seller to say “yes.” This seems to be particularly true of higher priced items. Reach out your hand with a ten dollar bill for a fifteen dollar item and simply ask, “Will you take ten?” And see what the seller says. S/he may feel that $10.00 in their hand is worth far more than $15-20.00 that some future buyer might be willing to pay. And don’t forget; my previous tips of “be friendly” and “be fair” apply!
5. Don’t go overboard gushing over an item.
If you show too much interest or excitement about an item, you undermine your chances for successful haggling. In other words, you’ll have just tipped your hand to the seller. Giving an indication that you’re willing to pay whatever necessary to own an item will not work in your favor. All the “power” is now in the seller’s hands. To indicate just how much you can live without the item, get the seller’s attention, point to the item, and begin to walk away just as you ask about the price. This gives the [right] impression that you are prepared to walk away from the sale if the price is too high (see tip below).
6. Be prepared to walk away.
Lest you think I’m recommending that you act disingenuously, I seriously recommend that you always be prepared to walk away from an item that is priced too high for your budget. Very few items hold sway over my emotions. I’m out vintage shopping enough that I know chances are good, some day I will find most items in question for less money. I do not need anything that my gut tells me is priced too high, and so I can walk away without regrets. For many, shopping can be deeply connected to their emotions, so as dealers and collectors, we’ve got to come to grips with that issue. Are we buying just to feel good, or to sell/add to out collection without breaking the bank? If the answer is to sell/collect cheaply, then we must buy smartly.
7. Avoid telling anyone you’re a dealer, if you are one.
Okay, this tip is just for you guys who buy to sell. Because dealer’s enjoy a less than stellar reputation with the general public, it’s a good idea to keep this information under raps if you are a dealer. I remember taking a friend garage saling with me once; she picked up an item and yelled across the driveway, “Hey Diana, how much could you sell this for?” Cover blown. I’m not suggesting you lie when pressed on the point, but the prejudice against dealers is pretty strong out there. Sellers may then get an attitude toward you and possibly jack prices up or be unwilling to dicker. Unfortunately, people think because you’re trying to get a good price, with enough margin to make a decent profit, that you’re trying to rip them off. If you follow the previous six tips, then you’re clearly not trying to deceive anyone.
I hope you’ve enjoyed my tips and feel equipped now to test out the haggling waters.
You Haggling Rock Stars, leave me some haggling stories in the comments below 🙂
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Bye for now,
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