When and How to Haggle at Sales

What’s better than the feeling of finding a one-of-a-kind antique that you love? Finding that gem for a bargain. Whether you’re at a flea market or antique store, there could be room for a little bit of haggling to bring down the price – and we’ve got a few tips if you’re looking to negotiate.

One cardinal rule to remember: Be polite. Most sellers are open to offering discounts and even expect to, but being pushy or rude isn’t the way to go. Trying to get a 10% discount is reasonable – arguing for a 50% price cut could be insulting.

antique haggling

Haggle when…

  1. You like a few items.

    For Dummies offers a bunch of great advice for antique haggling, and offering a package deal is one of the tips. You’ll definitely get the owner’s attention if you want to buy several items, which might make him or her more willing to drop the price a bit. And who doesn’t love leaving with multiple finds?

  2. You’ve done your research.

    Make sure you’ve done your research – both examining the item for damage and looking up its estimated value – before you start asking for the price to be dropped. You might find in your research that the price is fair or already quite a bargain, so it could be insulting to ask for a further price cut.

    Of course, it doesn’t hurt to politely ask if the listed number is the seller’s best price – About.com recommends this as a good way to test the waters and see if the seller is open to negotiation. Oftentimes, the seller will be willing to drop the price by at least 10%.

    As part of your research, create a budget for these antique buys, too.

  3. The item is damaged.

    The rush of getting something for a lower price isn’t the only reason to haggle – the item itself might not be in pristine condition, leaving rightful room for a little negotiation. Yahoo! suggests checking each item for flaws, which could reduce the actual value of the antique and leave you paying to repair damage.

    Some sellers get a little defensive about buyers pointing out the flaws, as many have already factored the damage into the asking price. Make a judgment call based on your research – is the price fair based on the damage? If so, simply ask if it is the best price for the item. If you don’t think the damage has been factored in, politely ask about it.

  4. It’s almost closing time.

    If you’re at a flea market, fair, or somewhere that has sellers traveling and lugging their stuff to the location (e.g. not in the owner’s own store), circle back to some interesting finds near the end of the event and ask about price. Sellersmight be more inclined to offer a discount – especially on bigger items – so theydon’t have to transport the items again.

  5. You really, really like something.

    Sellers also love antiques, so they can understand falling in love with something, seeing an item that’s part of a collection you have, or spotting an item that has sentimental value. Don’t be shy about sharing your story with the seller – a friendly chat works much better than hostile bargaining attempts. Hearing how much you love the piece or how you’d use it might sway a seller, according to SC Johnson’s Family Economics Blog.

Though some might be timid about haggling, most sellers are quite open to negotiations with polite buyers. This is especially true if you’re a regular at events or stores and build relationships with sellers.

A little friendly negotiation can lead to great conversations, great prices, and great antiques for your home!

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