1-Can I Get Discounts at Estate Sales? 2-Negotiating Better Prices at Antique Shows. 3-How to Get a Discount in an Antique Mall. 4-Bargaining in Antique Shops. 5-How to Haggle at Garage Sales. 6-How to Haggle at Flea Markets.
Can I Get Discounts at Estate Sales?
Traditional Estate Sales
Most estate sales are run by professional liquidation companies these days. The prices on the first day of the sale are more often than not set in stone. Prices are usually reduced the second or third day, depending on the length of the sale, and usually in increments of 25% (although some will go half price the second day of a two-day sale).
If discount policies aren’t clearly posted, don’t be shy about asking one of the estate sale workers when prices will be reduced. The number of items left for discounting on the second or third day depends on how reasonable the prices were marked in the first place. If merchandise seems to be flying off the shelves on day one, don't count on the piece you have your eye on to be waiting for you once discounts kick in later. As they say, buy now or cry later.
Estate Sales Conducted by Families
Occasionally you’ll run across an estate sale being conducted by a family. Although merchandise may be offered throughout the house, these sales are more like garage sales. You’ll usually have more leeway bargaining here, even on the first day of the sale. Make an offer just as you would at a true garage sale.
Negotiating Better Prices at Antique Shows
Antique show negotiating is very similar to that employed at flea markets. Asking for a “best price” is usually the way to go. The main difference is the type of show you’re perusing, which ranges from those similar to flea markets to high-end charity antique shows.
Dealers in all types of show settings realize customers will ask for discounts, it's customary. Be aware, however, that some will welcome it more than others. Occasionally you’ll run across a show dealer who demands full price with no exception, and the way they respond to your request for a better price may be nothing short of rude.
In these instances, you can choose to begrudgingly pay the asking price and reinforce the belief that they don't have to consider discounts (or even be polite!) to make sales. Or, you can simply move on and do business with someone who knows how to treat customers with respect.
How to Get a Discount in an Antique Mall
Basic Antique Mall Discounts
Some malls only offer discounts to dealers, and you must have a tax exemption on file to qualify for even 10% off. However, if you ask, most multi-dealer establishments do offer at least a 10% discount on items priced above a certain threshold – usually in the $10-50 range but some go a little higher with this requirement.
For more than a basic discount, a mall salesperson usually has to contact the seller for approval. Malls won’t generally do this unless you’re buying multiple items from the same booth or a single item valued at $100 or more. If you decide to ask for this courtesy, you can make an offer or ask for a best price. Either way, don’t expect to get more than 25% off, and keep in mind that 15-20% is more realistic.
Look for ND on Tags
Some mall sellers mark tags “ND,” which stands for no discount. This usually means that the seller has priced the merchandise as reasonably as possible considering what they paid for the piece, and they aren't willing to negotiate further.
In some instances, you can have mall personnel call the dealer to make an offer on ND merchandise but this isn't common practice. Mall workers often have a feel for which dealers will work with customers on ND merchandise, and will guide you accordingly.
Bargaining Directly with Sellers
If you happen to run into a dealer working in his booth, or the mall is a co-op and the dealer is working that day, consider yourself lucky.
While it doesn't happen often, you might be able to garner a better discount or negotiate on ND merchandise working one on one with a booth owner. The dealer avoids paying mall commissions this way, and can often pass that savings along to the customer.
Keep in mind, however, that some antique malls discourage this practice and others strictly forbid it. Respect sellers who tell tell you they may risk losing their booth lease for dealing directly with customers, and try to curb your persistence in these instances.
Bargaining in Antique Shops
In the case of most single-dealer antique shops, which aren't all that plentiful anymore, you’ll be working directly with the owner or the owner’s agent when negotiating a better price. The person you’re dealing with will likely have the power to cut prices, sometimes significantly, when they see a good opportunity to make a sale.
It’s still better to use the “best price” method here, rather than making an offer, just as you would at a flea market. You never know how long a seller has had a piece in stock, or whether business was off that week and they really need a sale to pay the rent. The price they quote may be far below what you expected since they'd rather make the sale at a marginal profit than let you walk out empty handed.
How to Haggle at Garage Sales
It’s pretty customary at garage, yard, and tag sales (all terms for the same type of venue) to make offers on merchandise. If an item is marked $30, you can offer $20 and see what the seller thinks. Don’t be surprised if he counters with $25.
Keep in mind, however, that making a low-ball offer just as the sale begins won’t win you any points with a seller. If you find something you really want early in the sale, be prepared to pay full price or accept a nominal discount.
To get the best bargains at garage sales, return late in the day. If a piece was priced very high to begin with, and sometimes garage sale antiques are these days, the seller may come down significantly as the day drags on.
How to Haggle at Flea Markets
Most flea market sellers expect to be asked for some sort of discount, usually in the 10-25% range, and they price their merchandise accordingly.
To get the best deal, it’s wise to ask a flea market seller for a “best price” rather than making an offer. The reason being: a dealer may go lower than you expected when quoting a price.
For example, if an item is marked $38 your bargaining instinct might lead you to offer $35. But what if the dealer was willing to go to $30? You could get another $5 off by allowing them to state the price.
Don’t be afraid to make a reasonable counteroffer if the dealer doesn’t go as low as you’d like. Don’t be too surprised, however, if they stick to the price they originally quoted.
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