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Friday, July 18, 2014

The Art of Haggling - Learn It!

You've heard the terms haggling, negotiating, dealing and dickering.  Many recent tv shows have even started showing examples of how to negotiate in such programs as American Pickers, Pawn Stars, Pawnography, Dickering, Cash and Cari and others.  These television shows have not only educated us on the technique of how to haggle but setting an example of what the future is going to be.  A practice that has been greatly used in other countries that sell goods in markets, has now reached the United States.  Unfortunately, not all retailers and dealers are quite comfortable with the back and forth negotiating as many are making offers rather than paying full price.  I rent a small antique booth in Franklin, Tennessee and have noticed an increase in the number of calls over the last two years of customers making offers.  Because the antique mall is managed by various workers and the owners of the merchandise are not on the premises, it makes it difficult for the employees to negotiate, therefore they are calling the booth owners daily relaying offers.  Some malls have an agreement of a certain percentage they can negotiate without calling to cut down on the amount of calls.  Although not an ideal situation, you should always ask if they will come down on a price before buying.  Who knows, it may be the easiest 10% off you ever got.  Flea markets are quite versed in the dickering game.  Often the dealers are present at the market giving the customer more opportunity to get a better deal.  The downside to all of this is that often prices are marked up in order to accomodate for negotiating.  Estate sales are the same.  More so at the end of the sale you can make offers and ask for discounts.  When I was running the  sale, a few things did irritate me.  When someone has 20 different items in their arms and is holding each one up and asking if I'll take a dollar here or there for it, I not only have no idea how this is going to get accurately accounted for at the register but know I probably won't remember what we agreed on.  Therefore, asking an overall price for a set of items is not only easier on both parties but may give you more leverage with the dealer as they will not be constantly quoting prices for you.  If its a large item, yes, you may want to discuss that separately.  Everyone's style in negotiating is a little different and some are more comfortable with it than others.  Whether you are new at it or not, there are a few things you can do and say to insure you are getting the best deal.
What are some of the ways you can ask for a discount without feeling pushy or offending the owner?  I've had many techniques of negotiating tried on me and I'll give you my perspective as a dealer first and then give you some suggestions.  The offer I dislike the most is what I call the bully.  This is when someone walks up to me with a frown and gruffly says, "I'll give you a dollar for this old broken handled saw."  Maybe its just me but when someone TELLS me what they're going to give me for something, I automatically want to get defensive and just say no.  I would never recommend trying to offend the person you're negotiating with.  Also, pointing out all the flaws and reasons why it isn't worth anything, may help a little but just makes me wonder why you want it anyway.  "What's the best price you can do on this today?", is one of my favorites to use.  That gives you a starting point and you can go from there.  You can always say a counter offer and see what happens. Another practice that doesn't go over well with me as a dealer is when I have agreed on a lower price and then suddenly we get to the counter and the customer is wanting even more off.  Not only does this not work with me but will get you sent to the side or back of the line until you are ready.  Estate sales can be hectic busy places and a die hard negotiator in line can not only be time consuming but irritating to everyone in the room.  Some customers have been avoided and cut off from negotiations in the future because of this.  I have seen sales people run to the back when they saw this customer walk in.  No kidding!  You don't want to be that customer that holds out forever trying to save 1 more dollar...and then another.  The other customer that will find themselves avoided by sales people are the non-commital ones.  I call it, "How low will you go?"  Basically, just means he wants to know what my best price is on everything at the sale but no intentions of actually buying it.
 Again, letting the sales person know you are going to buy a larger quantity is a good way to get a better deal.  I just left an estate sale this morning in which a man asked, "What would you do on the entire lot of Christmas decorations?"  Because this is July and the sale is half over, the estate sales manager quickly went upstairs to make a fair bargain for the customer.  Estate and garage sales often have to clear out everything in a couple of days so selling by bulk is a desirable practice.  Because of this, I often counter offer with throwing more in rather than decreasing the price.  If a customer says, "Would you take 35.00 for the vintage Barbie Doll?"  I may say, "No but I will take 50.  for all of them."  That's what I call, sweetening the deal.  Again this is a great technique in clearing out the house.  One of my best phrases in getting a great deal has always been,  "What is your absolute bottom price for the car?"  Because most of us advertise on Craigslist a desired price for our things, we set those prices with a question in mind of what's going to be my bottom price at the end of the day.  By asking this question in the beginning, you often will get the response of this premeditated decision and save you the time of haggling back and forth.  In fact, many times I have gotten it for less than what I was going to offer.   The other phrase I like to use when a customer approaches me with an item is, "Well, what are you thinking?"  I automatically get a number in my head simultaneously and if it is the same, I say, "sold".  If my price is way above I'll say what I was thinking.  At that point, I try to bring them to the middle.  The more quickly you can get to an agreed price the better.  As negotiations linger, the less desirable the object becomes and more likely lead to buyers remorse.  Most of what we buy is based on an emotional, spontaneous decision.  As a sales person, you want that to be in your favor therefore a quick agreement is best.  This may also work in the opposite direction if you are working with a reluctant seller.  Sellers are often emotionally attached to their belongings and the more they hesitate during the deal, the more reluctant they can become and change their mind altogether about selling grandma's handmade quilt.
Another tip in negotiating as a couple is:  Let one person do the talking.  If you have a good rapport with the seller don't include your brother into the negotiating just because he is a used car dealer.  Talk to him on the side for advice but do your own talking.
Another idea in getting a better price is leaving an offer or bid.  If you can't agree on a price that day, ask if they will let you leave your name and number with a written offer.  This is a great way to get your price and the seller has your information at the end of the day after they find that Grandma's Madam Alexander Dolls aren't  worth as much as she thought.

My next advice is: Don't let pride get in your way.  I have seen many people lose a deal within a few insignificant dollars because of pride.  If you have haggled down within a small percentage of the price of the Lillian Russell dresser and about to walk away because of a few dollars because you either don't like the dealer or had a certain amount stuck in your head, you must not have really wanted it anyway.
Last advice on negotiating:  If you are at a number you really are not comfortable with, then stop.  This is definitely true for auctions.  We all get caught up in the moment and later regret it. 
So there it is.  Always ask for a better deal.  If you plan to be a return customer, don't offend the seller.  If you can't come to an agreement, leave your information and you just may get a call.

This article is brought to you by Busy Bee Moving Sales in Nashville, Tennessee.  Visit our website to find out how we can assist you in selling your estate. email: or call 512-788-2544.

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