July 11, 2011
You’d be surprised how many store owners are open to friendly haggling. For starters, you can always ask for a discount if you’re paying cash, or if you’re buying multiple items. My Danish brother-in-law Søren is a champion negotiator who gets markdowns in clothing boutiques, furniture and appliance stores - even hotels.
He does this by being charming, sincere and civil, and by believing that it never hurts to ask. We were on vacation in Italy, and wandered into an eyeglass store. Søren asked to see a fabulous pair of designer shades, but he wasn’t comfortable with the price.
He pointed out, in a pleasant way, that this was October, so the season was over - plus he offered to pay cash. He succeeded in getting a lower price. Use your judgement, though. All the charisma in the world isn’t going to lower the price at the gas pump.
One friend fell in love with a cocktail dress at Bloomingdale’s, but it was more than she wanted to pay. She politely asked the salesgirl to bring over the manager, who agreed to offer a 20% discount.
Some people are constitutionally unable to haggle. My friend Kim actually said to the flea-market vendor, “Only ten dollars for that crystal vase? Oh, no, I feel I should give you twenty.” Kim is no longer allowed to come shopping with me – but she is very welcome to be a customer at my own yard sales.