It's true. I like bargains…and I like TO bargain. I bet you like bargains too, but a lot of folks are shaking their heads at the second part. Bargaining? Asking someone to lower their price? Scary!
I mean, what if they say NO?
They might. Certainly has happened to me. And yet here I am, not a bit worse for the experience. And experience is all it is. I used to be way too shy to ask for lower prices. But do you know what my success rate is when I do ask? At least 90%! Talk about a self-rewarding activity!
I started thinking about the whole bargaining thing this weekend when I was garaging with my friend Judy. BTW, look at the fabulous MCM clock she found. I am officially jealous!
She saw a small rug she kind of liked, though it wasn’t perfect (the corners wanted to curl up). It was marked two dollars. I asked the lady having the sale if there was any chance she’d take a dollar, and she said yes so fast and so cheerfully that Judy was startled. As we walked away, rug in hand, she commented on how easy that had been. And almost always it's just that simple.
But…what if she HAD said no? We could have paid the two bucks (still a good deal in this case) or decided to leave the rug behind. Sometimes I’ll say something like, “Let me think about that.” When larger sums are on the table, sometimes you can go back and forth a little to settle on a price.
A lot of folks feel that fifty cents or a dollar isn't worth hassling over; they’re embarrassed even thinking of suggesting a lower price. And if you only go garaging once in a while it might not be. But those little amounts add up. I just looked at my spreadsheet of this year’s garaging finds, and I see I’ve spent $391 so far. Wow, spendy hobby! But I've paid at least $150 less than I would have, just by asking for a lower price. (And if I'd bought things retail, the outlay would have been more like $6700. Yeah, it's been a good year!).
When don’t I bargain? If I'm at an estate sale, it's usually clear that the first day’s prices are firm (often they’re half price the second day, so you have to gamble on whether something you like will still be there). This week I stood in a short estate sale line to buy a couple of DVDs and some wire.
The wire helped me finish a little project, in which I turned some Christmas ornaments
into garden glitz.
I love them! Might have to look for old necklaces to break up to make more. This travel water bowl for the dogs was only a quarter, and even I would hardly dispute that price!
Ditto for this silicone ring for storing sewing machine bobbins, and a water bottle
with a top that flips up like a miniature observatory.
That’s a lot of engineering for a quarter. And it has the advantage of weighing only a hair over a pound when it's full, which is something to consider if you dangle a water bottle via a carabineer off a belt loop. If you try that with the ultra-baggy pants that kids have been wearing, could lead to an unfortunate incident!
Didn’t try to bargain at a few sales where I felt it would be received badly. It's all about the vibe. But I'm still happy with the prices on this shirt for my husband
a chenille robe for me (with my initials on the zipper pull!)
a wild and crazy bag for my laptop
a pair of king size sheets and a queen size flat (whenever you find Egyptian cotton sheets in good condition for fifty cents, snatch them up!)
or this vintage book full of mid-century goodness.
I really want this horse sculpture!
Sets of things are good bargaining fodder. If DVDs are two bucks each and you’ve found six or seven, offer a ten spot.
Ditto for CDs but not if they’re two bucks, that’s way too high for CDs!. Got all four of these for $2.
Lots of folks will gather up an armload and offer a blanket amount for all of it. That works sometimes, but I’ve seen lots of sellers spend the time to tally up their asking prices to make sure they’re not giving the farm away. I have better luck asking for deals on individual pieces. Like this flamingo. With a fan in her tummy that whirls in the breeze!
My favorite bargaining story this week involved an adjunct to Judy’s rug. It wanted to slide around on her hardwood floor, and when I saw this stuff at a sale the next day I assumed it was for under rugs and got it for half the price it was marked.
The lady selling agreed it should work fine - and waited until after I'd paid for it to point out that it's really for lining shelves! I snickered all the way to the car.