Category Archives: Flea Market Shopping

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Price-Tag Limbo: How low can you go?

So you found the perfect thing….now comes negotiating with the dealer.

First, Decide What Your Top Dollar Is And Stick To It. Be ready to walk away.  Ask the seller if the marked price is their “best price.” Offer less and be ready for counteroffers. A knowledgeable buyer is always respected. This is where pre-trip homework on Ebay or Craigslist will pay off. If you shopped your choice and found that it could be had for say, two hundred dollars on-line, you then have a strong position from which to negotiate with the vendor. You can leverage a lower asking price because you have evidence the item can be purchased cheaper elsewhere.

Your Friend Is Your Wingman Too. Coach your companion to say in a loud voice, at just the right time, “Do you really need that? You already have so many.” Considering the possibility they might lose the sale, some line like this can cause the seller to snap to attention with greater barter readiness.

So what if it’s sneaky….this is a game, isn’t it?

If that ploy doesn’t work, try asking the vendor if another item can be thrown it to sweeten the deal. Sometimes, especially at the end of the day, having fewer items to pack up is more attractive than a top dollar transaction.

Already buying several items? Perhaps the merchant would consider a group discount for the lot.

Not all sales have to happen on the spot. If you’re looking to land Big Game and the vendor is balking, get a cell number and give them a call on Monday. If the weekend was sluggish sales-wise, and the piece you want didn’t move, you’ll be in a better negotiating position.

Do’s And Don’ts:
  • Take your time and stay calm. It takes focus to concentrate amid the whirlwind of sights, sounds and even smells at a bustling market. Don’t let a dealer distract or rush you. You’ll want to do a proper inspection of every item of interest. Construction details are important, as is sitting on it (as is appropriate), picking it up and even flipping it over. In the same vein, only shop with someone who will stay out of your way while you zero in on a potential purchase. You don’t want to be held back or distracted by friends and loved ones no matter how well meaning they may be. Sometimes the best stuff is hiding and you’ll need a sharp eye and your wits about you to not miss out.
  • Be friendly, never rude.  Many merchants work flea markets as a hobby and their wares may come from their personal collections. Have a chat; be respectful of the merchandise and polite when bargaining.
  • By the same token, don’t patronize grouchy trades-people. It ruins the fun of the hunt and the acquisition.  Is any flea market treasure really worth an unpleasant but avoidable experience?

Fine And Bottom Lines: There are fine lines between kitsch and memorabilia, or collectibles and dust collectors. Not that it matters, if the found item(s) light up your day. Think of this outing as an adventure, in search of a good time, a great purchase, and a laugh or two along the way.

Who knows?
You may even find the perfect solution for that long unresolved decorating dilemma and you got a great bargain to boot!
Related Posts

(Flea Market Shopping Three Part Series)

Flea Market Shopping #1: Be A Lord Of The Fleas

Flea Market Shopping #2: The Early Bird, Etc.

Article Photo: _The_old_flea_market_in_Piazza_Montanara.jpg

Large Article Photo: creative commons 2.0 license

The original version of this article was published on It’s represented here as a foundation for further topic discussion and updates.