How to haggle: a 3-step guide to price negotiation
I was walking back to the newsroom from lunch last week when I spotted two secondhand mid-century chairs I loved outside White Owl Market.
I've been to the store a few times and always have to restrain myself from buying anything because my apartment is maxed out on space. But I'm moving into a house at the end of this month, and the chairs match the couch I already have. It was fate.
I found out it was $199 for the set plus a matching wooden end table. It sounded like a great deal, but I know next to nothing about furniture prices. So I wanted to do some research first.
I went back to the office and told my colleague/future neighbor Zack Sampson about my find. He agreed the price was reasonable. But, he said, why not try to lower it?
I'd never really haggled before, partly out of lack of opportunity and partly because I'm irrationally scared of offending the store owner.
But Zack, whose dad owned a consignment shop for years, had some great tips:
- When picking a price, shoot low so there's room to negotiate. But don't go wild. A too-low price could insult the store owner. In the case of the chairs and table, for example, he thought $150 would be a good starting point.
- Bring as much cash as you're willing to pay. Fees associated with card transactions are a hassle for store owners, plus the exact amount puts a price ceiling on the haggling.
- Be authoritative. Tell the owner you have X amount in cash you can pay right now and throw in, if possible, that you can transport the furniture yourself to sweeten the deal.
Armed with the advice and a wad of cash, I went back to White Owl a couple days later. I started at $10 higher than Zack's recommendation because I could only get 20s from the ATM (and an extra $40 in case the store wasn't willing to negotiate). I also offered to take the furniture away myself.
And... it worked. I got the deal, the owner sold the chairs. Everyone was happy.
I admittedly was a little overzealous to think everything would fit in the back of my Honda Civic. I had to take two trips. But it was totally worth it.