Let’s Make a Deal – The Dos and Don’ts of Bargaining

While watching TLC’s “Say Yes to the Dress” the other day, I learned some important life lessons. Lesson number one: I should really re-evaluate my television watching priorities. Lesson number two: Spending more that $100 on a wedding stress is silly. Spending $15,000 on a wedding dress is criminally insane (Confession: I realized I wrote ‘stress’ instead of ‘dress’ by accident, but I’m leaving it because it’s true). Lesson number three: There is an appropriate time and place for bargaining. Wedding dress shopping is one place that I would deem it inappropro.

After watching a family on the show haggle to buy the floor sample of a $24k dress down to a mere $15k (what a steal…NOT) I got to thinking about the dos and don’ts of bargaining. I was raised by the queen of haggling and she taught me well. Until recently I believed “yard sailing” was an verb and competitive sport. Over the years I have fine tuned my skills and have gotten some hella deals at many a market and sidewalk junk sale. There have been times, I am ashamed to admit, that my attemps at talking the price down were laughed off and I was left broken hearted and empty handed. I am here today to make sure that never happens to you. Read on for a list of what I believe are the most important things to remember while trying to strike a deal.

1. Don’t act a fool
First off, be aware of where you are shopping and be reasonable about the probability of being able to bargain with the person making the sale. You may be able to get an antique whatever for a steal at your local flea market, but trying to talk down the price of a case of wine at Costco is probably not going to go so well. Corporate bitches.

2. Buy in Bulk
You are far more likely to get a deal if you are buying more than one item at a time. Case in point: trying to get two bucks taken off a three dollar tchotchke is not going to fly. Buying two scarves priced at $7 each for $10 total is far more reasonable. You save $4 and the seller unloads two of something instead of one on your cheap ass.

3. Be respectful
Keep in mind that this person is trying to make a living. Don’t be a dick and disrespect their chosen profession by low-balling them right off the bat. True, your initial ask should be slightly less than what you’re hoping/willing to pay so that there is room for compromise, but don’t offer to pay less than half the price right away. You’ll just get laughed at and feel bad the rest of the day. You might even cry (don’t cry).

4. Timing
This tip is especially helpful in situations where the seller is an amateur or weekend warrior salesperson. As the day drags on and their precious shit isn’t selling, people tend to get a little desperate. Desperation is your friend. You do risk missing out on some of the primo merchandise by waiting until the end of the day, but you are also more likely to score some desperation deals when people just want to pack it up.

5. Be nice, but firm.
Being nice and smiling at people sounds a little lame to some (you know who you are you heartless bastards) but is usually somewhat effective in getting people to like you. Paying them also helps. Put the two together and you’ve got yourself some new stuff and a new friend. Yay! Anyway, try your best not to be a jackass when you’re cutting a deal. Maybe throw in a joke or two. If they refuse your bottom line you can try bullshitting with some shpiel about seeing it a block away for cheaper, or just setting and it down and SLOWLY walking away. More often than not you will be called back to seal the deal.

Pics from: poptower.com, reason.com

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About the author

Alison Lambert - Half Price Headliner

Ali was born and raised in the Wholesome/Creepy capital of the world, Salt Lake City, UT. Once she was old enough to blow that pop stand she escaped to the place that was the anti-SLC: The Peoples Gay-public of Drugifornia aka San Francisco (holla 30 Rock!). You can now find her throughout this glorious city slurping Pho and scheming with her best friend Pinky doing what they do every night; try and take over the world.