Haggling over Antiques.

Philip's ready to make a deal at the Sparks Kansas Flea Market.

Philip’s ready to make a deal at the Sparks Kansas Flea Market.

So a guy walks into an antique store and says, “So, has the “American Pickers” changed your business?”

Nope, it’s not the beginning of a joke. It actually happens in our store about once every two weeks. The answer is: we don’t believe it’s impacted our business.

The American Pickers are two guys who go into barns, garages and personal collections of individuals and haggle to buy old industrial parts, signs and memorabilia. They don’t go into retail businesses. They wouldn’t think to come here and if they did, they wouldn’t have the audacity to haggle big-time with Philip. A retail store owner has overhead. You don’t go into Dillard’s and demand a 25 to 50% reduction in price off new inventory. You wait for sales.

Do antique stores run sales? Yes. Do they discount from time to time? Yes. Do they participate in “American Pickers Style” haggling? We doubt it. Can you offer less or ask for a discount? Sure, but there may not be much of a mark up to begin with, so don’t take it personal if your offer is rejected. What about a “cash discount”? Doesn’t hurt to ask.

Haggling is an acceptable practice around the world. Americans haggle over the price of cars. At flea markets, people will negotiate, hopefully politely. Don’t offer too low of a price though. It is offensive to low ball it. At the West Bottoms in Kansas City, we saw lots of signage that clearly stated that stores did not negotiate. Reasonable prices were set in stone.

Know your market. We’ve seen internet shops with European inventory running as much as a 6x markup. You won’t find that in Springfield Missouri. The Midwest antique market has been slow to rebound from the recession. If you are wondering about a fair market price, we usually recommend that people go online and do an advanced search on eBay for “sold” items.

You can trust that we are out looking for good quality items that we can offer to you at a reasonable price. Intense negotiation won’t be necessary.

(Editor’s note: these are simply our opinions)

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