Haggle Your Way to a Bargain

by Katy on June 9, 2009 · 6 comments

The following is a reprint of a previously published article. Enjoy!

Katy Wolk-Stanley

“Use it up, wear it out, make it do or do without.”

With prices at all time highs, I’m needing to reach deep into my bag of tricks.

Working hard to not waste food?


Entertaining ourselves at home instead of going out?


Buying only second hand consumer goods?


But am I spending as little money as possible when I’m making purchases?

This is where the art of bargaining comes in. And anyone who has ever visited a foreign land can tell you, it is an art. An important thread in the tapestry of any sale.

But here in the United States, people dread having to bargain. Car dealerships advertise one-price-only policies, and most people don’t realize that the marked price can be just the starting point.

So how is bargaining done?

Lines which I find work well without being offensive to the seller are:

“Is this a firm price?” or “Are your prices firm?” or “Are you able to lower the price on this?”

This puts the seller in the position of either offering a lower price, asking you what you’d like to pay, or saying that yes, the prices are firm. My experience has been that most vendors are perfectly willing to haggle.

I’ve been able to get prices lowered everywhere from the expected, (garage sales) to the unexpected, (Target.)

A common reason why a vendor would lower a price is damaged packaging. To a store, this means a product that is less likely to sell. But to a buyer, it really makes no difference, as you are going to remove the packaging anyway. (Carefully recycling each and every bit — of course.)

The one thing that is most important when trying to bring down a price is to be polite and friendly. There’s nothing to be gained from insulting the merchandise or being rude.

Nobody wants to do a favor for a jerk.

The best bargaining ends with both parties feeling good.

So next time you’re shopping, go ahead and try the art of bargaining. It’ll be like going on a mini vacation abroad.

Katy Wolk-Stanley

“Use it up, wear it out, make it do, or do without”

{ 6 comments… read them below or add one }

Meg from FruWiki June 9, 2009 at 12:22 pm

You can get a lot just by asking!

My favorite bargaining line whether for prices or salaries is “Is that negotiable?” And I also like, “Will you take $X.” Though often it makes sense to let them come up with a number, it does make it simpler to ask for a specific price — especially if $X is their competitor’s price and you can show that.

If you have something to offer them, that helps a lot. For example, maybe you have something you can trade (including services), or perhaps you can buy in bulk or know someone else who would like their products. And salespeople love cash!

And though you CAN haggle at big box stores, it’s usually much easier at locally-owned places where you’re more likely to talk to a manager or even the owner. And if the person you’re talking to isn’t in a position to make deals, ask for someone who is.


Jessica Wolk-Stanley June 9, 2009 at 2:37 pm

This brings back memories! When I was in college, I spent a couple of years in Israel, where haggling is definitely an art form. I especially liked the market in old Jerusalem. The buildings are about 100 years old, at least. It was so exotic and once I got over my fear of bargaining, fun! The typical exchange went something like this: The seller would name a price, and then you are supposed to counter with a price slightly over half of what they said. They act insulted, and counter-offer more. Then they’d suggest you kiss them. Seriously! Then you act annoyed and walk away. They call after you an almost decent price and you offer less. All of this could take about 10 minutes, but it was challenging (especially with my iffy Hebrew). Sometimes, I’d end up buying something I didn’t even really want, simply because the haggling was so entertaining. Not very compacty.


Happy Mum June 10, 2009 at 2:43 am

Re food waste (previous posts) — see news item re possibly banning “sell-by” / “display-until” dates in UK — http://uk.news.yahoo.com/4/20090610/tuk-sell-by-dates-to-be-binned-in-waste-dba1618.html.


Kathy June 10, 2009 at 7:50 am

“Nobody wants to do a favor for a jerk.” Love it. 🙂

I find that I feel very comfortable starting the negotiation process some days and feel completely incapable of it other days. If I’ve got an “on” day going, it’s fun.



Kristen@The Frugal Girl June 10, 2009 at 5:49 pm

I did this today! I ended up getting a $4.25 Old Navy skirt at Goodwill for only $.50. Oh yes.


Anne June 11, 2009 at 12:57 pm

That’s a photo of the Grand Bazaar in Istanbul! I loved it!


Leave a Comment

Previous post:

Next post: