When you go into big brand stores to buy things, you can’t negotiate the price. What the sticker price says is what you pay, unless they have one of those “we’ll beat any competitors’ price” policies.
Flea markets and yard sales are a whole different ball game, though. You are kind of expected to haggle. Flea market vendors most likely have been haggling with customers for years so it can be intimidating going in there and trying to get the best price possible. And you’ll probably get lots of different tips from people on how to haggle, but here’s a pretty standard negotiating deals list.
1. Know your product. Know what something is worth going into it and know what it’s going to take to make that item worth every penny. If you plan on selling an item for profit, then you’ll want to know your profit margin. If it’s for your own personal use, then know how much you’re willing to put into it to make it great.
2. Be charming. Strike up a conversation with the vendor. Learn what his (or her) likes and dislikes are and even where he gets his stuff. This might also help you in determining the value of a piece you have got your eye on without letting him know you’ve got your eye on something.
3. Keep your poker face. You never want to tip your hand in a negotiation. Play it cool – even if this is the item you have been looking all over for, don’t let anyone know how desperate you are for this piece.
4. Be respectful, though. Don’t tell someone his item is a piece of junk. You can say how much you admire a piece or like it without tipping your hand. When you hear a price, ask what his bottom line is. If it’s still too steep, then tell him, “It is a beautiful piece; I’m sure someone will pay that for it.” Then he should ask you what your highest price is. You give him a number and he’ll either offer you a counter or tell you that for cash it’s yours at that price.
5. While not insulting the vendor, don’t be afraid to point out why you might not go as high as he would like. Remember to be respectful and say how much you do love the piece, but tell him that you’re concerned at the expense to you in repairing the scratches or any broken parts you notice. Let him know that while you do believe it’s well worth what he’s asking, in order for you to make it the piece you want you’ll have to put some additional work into it which is going to cost you x amount of dollars to do.
6. Get something for free. Dealers at flea markets are often just looking to push the merchandise, either to make room for newer stuff or because it’s a place they have to tear down and pack up at the end of the day to go to another location. The less they leave with, most likely the happier they will be. So if you plan on buying more than one thing from a vendor, then don’t be afraid to say, “Hey, will you throw that box of baseball memorabilia and make it an even amount?”
7. Bid low, but not too low. Start out with a conservative starting price in your negotiations, but don’t be insulting because that will turn a vendor off to you right away.
8. Patience really is a virtue. Good things do come to those who wait. And if you’re willing and able to wait then at the end of the day, if the item still hasn’t sold the vendor might be more willing to give you a better deal. This of course is a gamble – you have to hope no one else purchases the item before the end of the day.
9. Use cash. While vendors might accept check, they certainly do prefer cash. So make it clear that you will be paying with cash, but of course that means you must have that amount of cash on you right then and there.
10. Have fun. If you take it too seriously, then you’ll never be able to enjoy your finds. And you can’t get upset if a vendor doesn’t accept your negotiation. There will be other items and other vendors; it doesn’t have to be that one.
Follow these ten steps when you negotiate at your next flea market and you might be surprised at the amazing deals you end up walking away with.