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Behind the Scenes of a Bargain Antique Purchase

The Pain of Bargaining with Your Customers

Who truly loves to haggle over price? If wrangling for the best deal conjures up visions of cowboys and bull horns, then dig in your heels and hold tight. Since a good bargain increases your profit margin, it is a good idea to know your standings. Continue reading for a behind the scenes look at a bargain antique purchase.

As a matter of fact, Google Sheets is a great place to keep a spreadsheet with inventory pricing. A random-draw is not an option when bargaining with the price of Pawpaw’s saddle. Know your inventory and how long you’ve had it. Google makes it easy to pull up the inventory no matter where you are. And, it is always better to sell an item than to have it gather dust on your sawhorse. And believe it or not, it is often a blessing. Almost as fun as winning the Triple Crown. Ok, I said almost.

Bargaining Tips for Vendors

  • First of all, know your customer’s needs. Do they collect certain treasures? Are they purchasing for their freshman’s dorm room? A nursery? Is this a gift for the elderly? Do they live close by or are they visiting from out of town? Give them vintage customer service – you remember the kind where customers are more important than inventory. If you don’t have what they need, refer them to another vendor in your mall. Spur them on to a purchase that keeps it all in the family.


  • One confidential bargaining technique vendors should keep in mind is to always allow the customer to make an offer first. By allowing your customer to make the first offer, you will have an idea of how much they really want the item. If they come in at a price that is insulting, then they are not being reasonable in their offer and may not be serious about the selection. However, if they ask for a percentage off or offer you more than 1/2 the price on the sales tag then they are seeking a win/win. That always results in a little happy dance on my part.


Girl riding horse

Discounts & Coupons

  • Offer regular discounts so you will consistently rank high among local customers. One way to do this is to make and laminate signs to display in your booth. I have signs that offer 20% off, 30% off and 40% off. I usually nail my signs up the last 10 days of the month.

20 % off Sign

  • Send consistent emails to your list. Include coupons for special events to tie-down loyalty between you and your customer. Make the coupon downloadable to show cashiers at the point of sale.

Business Coupon Example


Behind the Scenes of One Bargain Antique Purchase

A couple recently came in while I was “fluffing” my booth and showed interest in 3 pieces of art. After we chatted a few minutes, the lady told me that she wanted the art for her granddaughter’s bedroom. Her husband then asked, “How much will you take for all three pieces?” His wife walked away as I turned to ask her a question. I interpreted her leaving as a sign she wasn’t interested anymore, so I returned to my fluffing expecting him to follow.

He stood there waiting so I asked, “What would you like to offer and is your wife still interested?” She overheard me and laughed as she said, “I don’t do bargaining. I just don’t like it, so I leave it to him.” I asked her about her granddaughter and if they lived close by. The more we talked the more I liked her. I wanted to meet her granddaughter. 😉

Three Florals

After we became friends 😉 I asked her husband about his offer again and it was very reasonable. As they walked away with all 3 pieces I imagined a little girl’s room with pink florals on the wall, unicorns on the bed and Mimi tucking her little pig-tailed granddaughter into bed. PawPaw rocked beside them while counting the money he saved in our little bargain.

The Triple Crown

I think this old mare scored well in this bargaining rodeo. It was a blessing to reduce the price, knowing that Mimi and PawPaw were creating a lovely and inspiring room for their granddaughter. I made a profit and a friend. If that’s not a Triple Crown, I don’t know what is!

So, who all likes a bargain by round of applause? Give me a nod by leaving a comment below with a bargaining tip or a story to share with other vendors. Share or pin this post if you think it’s helpful to other antique dealers. And the crowd goes wild… clap, clap, clap! [Cheering fades.]

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