Hodgepodgereel

Antique Faire: Haggling, A Form of R.E.S.P.E.C.T.

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Inspired response to an SFGate article.

My wife and I love the Alameda Antique Faire. We’ve been going for the last year and half to find kitschy and unique pieces.
Most recently, in the last 5-8 months, we’ve been trying to find pieces to add to our home. It has been part of our
monthly ritual. Besides the joy of basking in the warm sunlight and fresh air, getting our hands on something that has
some age and history as well as story is quite fun to experience. However, as we’ve come to also experience, haggling
is a sensitive and fine line to walk. This is how I approach most items that we like:

It’s always about sincerity. The way you approach haggling can not be canned, mono-toned, or even a rote utterance of words.
It’s a form of complimenting and appreciation for the piece. We understand some times that pieces are just a fair deal while
others can go lower. Talking and building a relationship at the beginning is key. Never just say, “I’ll give you x amount”.
Always scan the vendor’s wares to see the quality and level of “antiquity” they are selling. Although we’ve never come across
somebody who’s selling very cheap and inexpensive items, you can usually tell how nice something is versus something a vendor
just found and wants to sell for money.

Jewelry, furniture, wall decor, clothing, etc…they all have their aesthetic value, but the real key to get that piece for a reasonable price. Again, a welcoming and sincere greeting is a great ice breaker. Inquire about it, ask about the history of the piece or story of how it
was obtained. Vendors know their stuff and have passed on stories to each other so their willing to talk about it.

For example, we were there recently for the September faire. I came across a very cute, inspirational kid’s chair ($22.00, wood seat and back and blue painted steel). I say inspirational because we’re very ready to have kids and the image of our child sitting in this chair is quite a strong sentiments of familial nostalgia and love. I scanned it over, looked around at the other cute pieces, and saw the older woman (probably in her late 60’s, early 70’s) who was the owner of this lot.

The exchange was something like this:

Me: Hi. I love this chair. The colors are just great.
Vendor: Yes, it’s a fantastic piece. I love it too. It’s a very old chair and I restored it.
Me: I love that you left the painted area un-restored. Would you be willing to take $20 dollars?
Vendor: No, I wouldn’t do that. I restained it and it’s a great little piece.
Me: I agree…I love it and it’s worth every penny. I’ll take it.

We complete the transaction and she compliments the purchase by saying, “Well done…you have a very nice piece.”
Even though it was just a couple of dollars, I didn’t feel uncomfortable haggling. I made eye contact, I was very respectful, and I
was in a place where I genuinely felt good about our short conversation. It didn’t feel forced. And I probably would have paid $30 for a chair like this had it not been at a good price already.

This example is just one of a few stories from that day. We had purchased a few substantial pieces including a credenza and a set of nesting tables from separate vendors. We haggled to get the credenza down $100, but left the asking price for the tables as is because we felt the vendor set them at a very fair price for being an imported mid century piece.

Recommendations? Haggling shouldn’t just be about haggling. A price of something can’t be changed with a persuasive and complimentary statement. The key is being genuine and respectful. Never rush into a price, but always remember that each vendor will be different with different personalities and with different pieces to sell. Like your article talks about, it’s never about taking advantage of somebody’s misfortunes. Always take the time to thank each vendor for a short description and their time because you never know how you feel about that piece after slowly walking A through ZZ.

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Written by F&W

September 13, 2010 at 9:11 pm

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