1. Chocobo

    I have a question on haggling:

    Each year my family and I go to a large antiques fair which is held outdoors, with literally hundreds and hundreds of sellers in tents. For those of you who might be unfamiliar with antiques and antiques dealers, some mild haggling is usually a part of sale. You might ask “Will you take $100?” for a set of flatware priced at $130. Sometimes the dealer will say yes, other times no, and often settle somewhere in between. Bargaining is a part of the culture, at least in the area I live.

    A few months ago we went to this fair and I was looking for handkerchiefs. I was looking through a basket of them in one tent. Since vintage handkerchiefs can often be unpleasantly stained, I unfolded and refolded them to see if there were any stain and to examine the full designs, putting them back afterwards. I asked the dealers sitting nearby what the price was (something like $2-$3 each), and so I asked as per usual whether they might accept three for $5, which amounted to a one dollar discount. At that point the man exploded and told me “No! Yeah, you just go ahead just toss those back in there, and go where you can afford it,” among a few other nasty things in an angry and aggressive tone of voice. I was so taken aback I just left and have avoided their tent ever since.

    My question is: was I out of line? I understand that the items weren’t that expensive in the first place, but I was taught there was no harm in asking when bargaining is already expected. To be honest, if they had just said no politely (which the majority of dealers do when they decline an offer), I probably would have bought three anyway.

    • As a certified antiques appraiser, I can tell you that when purchasing antiques, amateurs and professionals alike examine objects. One must look for damage, wear, constructions, composition – the list goes on! If a seller doesn’t want you respectfully examining his items, then I would assume he’s hiding something. The only time I would support a seller’s getting irate with a curious potential customer is if that customer is mishandling the object, or if the object is fragile, and the owner would like to show it himself.

      And really, to suggest that you can’t afford a couple of dollars? Maybe he doesn’t actually want to sell anything to anyone.

      • Vanna Keiler

        I agree with the responses from Laura and Alicia. You did nothing wrong or insulting, by action or word in my opinion. Furthermore, you’re response to quietly leave was probably the best. If the items were not to be handled, the seller should have posted something to that effect or kept them in a suitable wrapping.

        Regardless, his response and outburst were unprovoked and hostile. We all have a bad day once in a while, but unfortunately if you have a business and react this way you will quickly lose customers/buyers. Hopefully he will learn from his own behavior and improve, so he sells more items. :)

    • Jerry

      You were absolutely correct.

      If you wanted to go one further, you could have neatly placed the handkerchiefs in the bin, told him that it sounds like $5.00 is a lot of money to him, and placed a $5.00 bill on his counter.

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