Drinking vodka, telling funny stories, and doing the Tootsee Roll….all things I am awesome at.
And also getting people to sell me stuff for less than the asking price. I’m not talking about getting half off my Slurpee at 7-11 or negotiating my restaurant tab, that’s just rude. I’m talking about purchasing at places where haggling is an expected part of the transaction. If you’re shopping at a flea market or antique store, expect to be able to negotiate 10-20% off the listed price. You may be able to do even better at a garage sale. No, really!
Establish a rapport.
Before you dive into a discussion of price, spend some time talking with the seller. Ask about the things they’re selling and if there’s a story. Show a genuine interest in whatever it is you’re trying to purchase. When I ran my vintage clothing business, I had one purchase that supplied the bulk of my inventory for well over a year. It was a large collection of rare dresses, which took my breath away when I saw it, and which I didn’t think I’d ever be able to afford. I spent hours that day talking with the seller, asking about her family history and getting to know her. And because she liked me, I was able to purchase everything for an amazing price. As a bonus, we’ve remained in contact for years since.
Ask “how much do you need to get for this?”
Never be the first to throw out a price. If you’re too low the seller may be insulted. Name a price too high and you could end up seriously overpaying. Even if an item has a price listed, often by asking “how much do you need to get” a seller will immediately offer up a lower number
Know the market.
Research before you buy (a smart phone makes price shopping on the fly a breeze) and know how much you should expect to pay. Check to see what comparable items have sold for recently and whether they’re likely to go up or down in price in the near future. You don’t want to pay top dollar for something that is widely available at discounted prices.
Know your budget.
Regardless of how great the item is and how badly you might want it, don’t break the bank in the heat of the moment. If you’ve done your research you should know how much of a spend to plan for. Set a firm upper limit in your head before negotiating and don’t allow yourself to go over that amount.
Be prepared to walk away.
If the item is overpriced, the seller won’t budge, or it’s just beyond your budget, be prepared to let it go. Whatever it is, another one will come along some day.
Leave a phone number.
Even if you couldn’t come to an agreement with the seller today, you might be able to tomorrow. Or in two weeks. Or a month. The longer a seller holds on to an item, the more likely they become to lower the price. Make sure they’re able to contact you when this happens.
Audrey Binkowski is a writer, a mother, a digital marketer, and a hoarder of vintage items. Seriously, her closets and cupboards are full of old crap that belonged to dead people. You can read more from Audrey on her blog, Laugh Mom.