The Beauty of Bargaining

We’ve all seen those people who can haggle for a lower price at flea markets and street vendors. You know, the ones who look at a price tag as a suggestion, not a certainty. We, the people paying full price, look at those Bargain-Betsies with a mixture of admiration and annoyance.  Our thoughts fluctuate between “How do they think they are?” and “How do they have the guts?” to “Why don’t I have bargaining skills like that?” and “Maybe I should give that a shot!”

The truth be told, bargaining is not a genetic trait of some sort. Those people who haggle a price from $100 down to $50 aren’t born like that. It’s a skill to be developed, just like any other.  Bargaining takes a bit of know-how and simply the willingness to ask. Did you know that you are allowed to bargain at no just flea markets, but at major retail stores as well? Many retailers will offer deals on floor models, slightly irregular products, off-season items, and more. A wise shopper will know what to look for, the wise time to buy, and what discounts to ask for.

For those of you tired of paying full price and you’re ready to get in on the bargaining action, here are five tips to get you started:

  1. Wait Until Off-Season.

Patience is virtue! And it’s a cost-saver too! Retailers biggest job is to “move” merchandise. When that merchandise hasn’t been sold within the expected time-period, then retailers are more open to bargaining to get the product out of their store and make room for new products. If you wait until post-season to buy a specialty item, like a patio-set for example, you can bargain to get that item for a much lower price. Many retailers will already mark down products at the end of the season. However patient buyers will until the store is about to turn over those off-season products and mark them as a loss, to swoop in for the deal. In this case, it’s not the early bird who gets the worm; it’s the late one.

  1. Shop Consignment and Thrift.

Consignment store, thrift shops and antique stores are wonderful spots to find name-brand items for less.  Again, it’s usually the items that haven’t sold yet that give you the most bargaining power. Check ads for local stores for products that have been sitting for a while. When you go in to the store, let the seller know what you a willing to take the item off their hands. You may offer them a deal they can’t refuse.

  1. Buy Irregular Items.

Floor model, off-label, or irregular items are also great options for finding a bargain. Many times there are items that have been slightly damaged in shipping to the store. Some items that have been out as floor models, but are still available for purchase (not all floor models are), have suffered a little wear and tear from shoppers as they look, see, and handle the floor models. However, most wear and tear is not substantial.  With a simple polish or cleaning, one would never know it was a floor model.  For clothing, if a seam if slightly off center, a retailer can’t sell it a top price. But if the flaw is not in an obvious spot, one could wear it and still look fabulous.

  1. Ask Grandma or Sergeant Joe to Act as Your Buyer.

Many retail stores offer discounts for the elderly and for the military.  If you aren’t in one of those special groups, you most likely know someone who is.  Ask a friend or family member who would be shopping anyway if they wouldn’t mind picking your items up also. Of course you would pay for the item, but you can also split your savings with them to thank them for going to the trouble of being your buyer.

  1. Shop Liquidation/Closing Sales.

Look around for liquidation or store-closing sales. As with a few of the other point above, timing is everything. Waiting until a store is moving or shutting down a store is an opportunity for a savvy buyer. Most retailers will offer deep discounts when they need to close up shop. They are also open to bargaining and dropping prices for bulk buys and deals that will help them to move their products more quickly. So, take the opportunity! Their loss is your gain!

Adrienne Isaacs