Years ago when I was living in New York City, I had my first lesson in haggling from a guy selling a carpet outside of a grocery store.
I was leaving the store with a too-heavy bag of groceries. I stopped to eye the carpet and I asked how much the guy wanted for it. He said $100. I shrugged and walked off. After all, I didn’t really need a carpet and my arms were already full of groceries.
As I started to walk away, the guy said, “OK. For you – $80.” I said, “Naw, I don’t want it.” I continued to walk away. The guy said, “OK. $60.” I said,
“No thanks” and walked off. The fact is that I probably could have gotten that rug for $40. Hummmm. There was something to be learned there.
In many countries, haggling over prices is a way of life. It’s part of the process of commerce and provides entertainment. It’s not part of the culture in America. We see the price on the tag and roll over and play dead. (Unusual items you can haggle for.) Well, not exactly, but we just think we have to pay what the price tag says. This is far from the truth as I have mentioned in earlier articles about asking for a discount. But, if you were raised in America, you might not have the slightest idea how you are supposed to haggle to get a better price. So, here are my top 5 haggling tips:
- Haggling does not work the same with an hourly wage sales clerk at The Gap as it does with a merchant at a street fair. The clerk at the mall has very little ability to change the price although just about any sales clerk can give you 10% off if you find anything wrong with the item. (Which is how the BB got 15% off at Banana Republic.) The street fair vendor normally has final say on prices. They know exactly what they paid for the item you want to buy. They are also sometimes willing to even lose money on the sale just to get some income.
- When dealing with a street vendor, never show excitement over an item that you are looking to haggle over. Boredom or indifference are good attitudes toward an item. With a clerk that is getting minimum wage and counting the seconds til they can go home, it might not matter if you jump on the counter in excitement or cry your eyes out. Of course, good manners are always a plus and may earn more good will than anticipated.
- Be willing to walk away from the sale. If you aren’t willing to walk away, the effect will not be the same. Walking away creates the need/desire for the seller to give you a better price.
- Listen to how the vendor deals with other customers before you approach him. This is very easy at a yard sale. Listen to other people asking for prices and if the vendor is willing to negotiate. This will give you an edge when you bring him your offer.
- If possible, make multiple purchases. You can always get a better deal when you are buying more than one thing.
- In chain stores, couponing is a form of haggling. Knowing the exact store coupon policies will give you a leg up on getting the best deal with your coupons.
Remember, no purchase price is set in stone. Have you haggled and gotten a better price?
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