Negotiating Tactics that Failed – Estate Sale Version

While I LOVE shopping at thrift stores, I often head to estate or household sales in search of home decor items. I’ve had good luck at them. My husband’s biggest bargain was a Stickley sofa, for which he paid $25. I’ve picked up more mundane items, like glass cookware, art, cookbooks, trays and lawn furniture, generally for a few bucks here and there.

Most sales are two days long, often starting on Thursday or Friday and then ending on Friday or Saturday. Many estate sale managers will negotiate, within reason, especially on the second day when most sales go half-price.

So today, when I approached a worker at an estate sale at 3:37 pm – 23 minutes before they were scheduled to close on the first day – and offered $20 for two small pieces of luggage, each marked $12, I thought she would at least consider it. Um, not so much. She was rude and somewhat indignant that I would even ask for a price break. Here is my attempt at negotiating:

Me: “Is there any chance you would take $20 for these two small pieces of luggage?” (A line I’ve used before – successfully, I might add)

Her: “What are they priced? $12? Oh nooo.”

I was shocked. I mean, it was the end of the first day and tomorrow at 8:30 am, all the items go to half price, meaning that the two pieces of luggage will cost a total of $12. I had other items in my hands but I put everything back because I was so irritated.

What can you learn from this? 1) It can’t hurt to ask for a lower price. 2) Know the pricing policies before you start negotiating so you know what you odds are of paying less.

So tomorrow morning I will head back over and delight in getting both pieces of luggage (which I am sure are still there) PLUS several other items, with my $20. Patience can pay off sometimes.


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Pay pennies for new-to-you clothing and housewares

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