Art of the Haggle: 5 Negotiation Tips When Buying Antiques
Bargaining is a key element of buying antiques, and if you want to get quality goods at lower prices, it’s worth learning the art form carefully - it could make the difference between making a profit or losing money on an item.
New entrants into the world of antiques are often shy about haggling. They see it as cheeky and unlikely to yield results. Some are just too timid to try asking for a better deal. However, one thing to remember if you’re one of these people is that dealers expect to negotiate. It’s part of their role, just as getting the best price possible is too. Dealers have often worked out beforehand what level they’re willing to drop to for certain items and what deals they might be willing to do. As a buyer, you just need to find those pinch points to get a better deal.
Entwined within all this is the importance of building good relationships with dealers. If you’re serious about antiques, you should always make a point of treating dealers with respect and demonstrating that you’re a good person to do business with. That mutual respect is the foundation of any successful negotiation, both now and in the future. As the saying goes, ‘people by from people’ so it’s very important to build an honest reputation in the industry.
With decades of experience in the antique industry, our knowledgeable team know a few tips and tricks when negotiating with dealers. We’ve put our head together and listed our top 5 tips when buying antiques:
1. Be Polite
Whether you encounter a dealer at a show or in a shop, it’s imperative that you go into the situation with your manners fully polished. Think of it this way – if someone came into the place you work and demanded a discount with barely so much as a smile, you’d be less inclined to give it to them, even if you were able. More importantly, not only are you ruining your chances on this piece, you’re also ruining any hope of a positive relationship with the dealer going forward. So, go in there and smile, say hello, wait until they’ve finished speaking to other people. Basic manners, but they might just get you a bargain. This tip is also transferable when approaching and speaking with dealers online. When sending emails, try to be clear and concise and remember, it’s always good practice to introduce yourself.
2. Show Your Enthusiasm For The Piece
As well as being polite, being enthusiastic about what you’re hoping to buy can help build rapport with the dealer. If you’re looking at a piece that you’re genuinely interested in, talk to the dealer about it. Finding out the piece’s story or provenance can go hand-in-hand with showing the dealer that you’re a genuine buyer. This could lead to a successful negotiation this time around or it could be a solid foundation for the future. If you’re planning on being a repeat customer, make sure that dealers find it pleasant talking to you. Be sure to never ask how much they originally paid for the piece!
3. Multibuy Antiques
Possibly one of the most common negotiating tactic around, the multibuy approach makes it more worth a dealer’s while to negotiate a better price with you. Selling more than one item in one transaction is appealing to a dealer and many are willing to work out a combined price that will sweeten the deal for the buyer about to put money in their hands. So, take a good look around the shop or stall before you even approach the dealer. See if there’s anything else in there that you’d like and then, when you speak to them, openly ask whether they would consider an “all in” price for buying those two or more items together. The worst that can happen is that they say no, and you’ve lost nothing - even a small discount is a victory as you were going to buy the items anyway! Some dealers may seem receptive to a multibuy discount, but just not with your chosen items. In that case, reconsider your options and remember to be respectful when renegotiating.
4. Be Realistic & Remember Your Limitations
Haggling may feel like a game sometimes, but it’s worth remembering that the antique business for the dealer is just that – a business. That’s why some dealers, however hard you try and negotiate, just won’t be receptive. When you first look at a piece, assess how reasonable the price is and how much you could pay for the item. Yes, you want to get a good deal, but you’re not going to do that if you go in too low and the dealer either thinks you’re fooling around or that you have no concept of serious antiques dealing. Neither of those options are going to endear you to the dealer, so just be realistic about what you can afford and what the antique might be worth. If you’re short on budget, try to gauge how long the dealer has had the item for. For example, if the antique piece has been in the shop for a few years, this is your chance to be cheeky and offer the dealer a low price to take it off their hands.
5. Don’t Leave Your Negotiating To The Last Minute
One school of thought is that if you leave your haggling until the last ten minutes before the shop or stall closes that you’re in with a better chance of the dealer negotiating with you. The problem is that you are never the only show in town. Dealers will have other customers viewing their pieces in the days and weeks ahead and it’s highly likely that other potential customers will be waiting until the final few minutes of play to strike a deal too. Instead of trying to grab them on their way out of the door, try negotiating when the dealer’s unoccupied and not pressed for time. This also gives you the chance to build rapport with the dealer and allows you to ask questions about the item(s) in your own time..
Can’t Negotiate On The Price? Try These Extra Tips To Get A Better Deal….
Negotiating a better deal for an antique isn’t all about the price, although it might seem that way at times. There are other elements in the buying process that you can negotiate on without your dealer agreeing to lower the price. Sometimes, these bonuses might be worth more than the discount you might have received through haggling over the base price.
Next time you negotiate with a dealer be sure to try these out:
Ask for FREE DELIVERY if they usually charge - especially if you are purchasing items locally. Remember that dealers are often out and about anyway, so it might not be putting them out too much to deliver for free and they may be willing to in order to make a sale.
Request that a piece is cleaned or repaired before you purchase it. Depending on how much the work could cost in relation to the value of the item, this could result in them saying yes or lowering the price so that you’ll get the repairs done yourself - a win-win in both cases.
If the antique is one that may need professional installation such as a chandelier or light fitting, ask for that to be included in the price. If the dealer is unreceptive, ask if they have any contacts in the industry who may offer a referral discount. Even a simple rewire could save you valuable cash, alongside increasing your margins.
About Decorative Collective
Decorative Collective’s marketplace brings together antique dealers from the UK and across Europe who are committed to buying and selling pieces in a straightforward and open manner online. Since 2009, Decorative Collective has been operating as a thriving online platform bringing together dealers and buyers with interests in every area imaginable from antique furniture and lighting to textiles and art.
At Decorative Collective, we believe in encouraging communication between dealers and potential buyers wherever possible, so you can ask questions, discuss concerns and even visit their premises if possible. Meanwhile, you have a trusted platform working with you and the dealer. We’ve built up a strong reputation over the years and we’re proud to have so many dealers listing with us. That’s why we're one of the UK and Europe’s top marketplaces to buy and sell antiques online!