The etiquette for price negotiation at antique shops
When it comes to negotiating on antiques, opinions range from being too timid to ask all the way to those who consider haggling to be an art form. Whether you are just learning or have years of experience on your side, there are a few basic ideas to keep in mind when you visit antique shops.
When negotiating a better price on antiques and collectibles remember these things:
- You won’t get a discount if you don’t ask.
- Be polite and reasonable when making an offer or you risk insulting the seller and leaving with nothing.
- Point out an item’s flaw but do not use it to insult the seller’s expertise.
- Don’t let cranky dealers upset you. If they don’t want to bargain, be prepared to move on.
- When you recognize something that is worthy and a must have, pay the seller’s asking price. You will both walk away happy and put yourself in a good place for future dealings with that particular seller.
When you shop at an antique mall, a store that has numerous dealers under one roof (like Antique Allure), it can get tricky if the dealer isn’t actually present to negotiate with you. If you see something and would like to offer less, the manager or owner of the store will usually have to contact the seller for approval. If you decide to ask for a lower price, make an offer or ask them what their best price is.
You may see tags marked “ND” which means “no discount.” This 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. Decide if the item is worth having and make your decision based on that.
Keep in mind, when you are negotiating for a better price on an antique or collectible, the seller has the power to cut prices per their discretion. They may discount significantly if they see a good opportunity to make a sale but if they aren’t in a hurry to make major discounts, they will offer you a “best price” for the item. They know how to play the game, so keep that in mind.
You don’t know how long a seller has had a piece in stock or whether business was off that week and they really need a sale. No matter what the circumstance with the seller, be reasonable when making an offer and know when to give up and either pay their price or walk away. If they are willing to offer a discount, you should be appreciative no matter what that discount is.
At Antique Allure, our policy of negotiation is this. Don’t allow the prices on the tags to influence your decision. Always feel free to make offers. Most dealers encourage bartering on prices. Our important issue is customer satisfaction, which has led to many returning customers. The bottom line is that most dealers want you to be happy with your dealing with them because they would rather you return to do more business than leave disappointed never to return again. When you visit antique shops keep these points in mind.