Tips for Negotiating With an Antiques Dealer

| November 2, 2012

antique dealers Antique and collectible shops, flea markets and street fairs allow you to find treasures and future keepsakes. They can be a great way to build on the collectibles you have or discover a new passion. Even better is getting a price you can’t beat.

Don’t be afraid to negotiate over price. Sometimes you may not get the dealer to budge, but often you will get a little knocked off the price. Be kind but be firm, and see where it takes you. Continue reading for some more tips, and don’t forget DexKnows antiques and collectibles.

Know your products

If you are a fan of a particular collectible, study up on it. Learn about how it was made, the different styles, markings and what makes it stand out from year to year when it was produced and how it is different from similar products. For instance, if you are a collector of Royal China pottery, research what made its glazes different than the competitors of the time and the different owners of the company over the years.

Gaining this knowledge gives you solid footing as you walk through a flea market or antiques shop. You also will know what value the piece should have, helping you know whether there’s an opportunity to barter for less with the dealer. It also lets you spot flaws that may lower the piece’s price.

If you don’t know much about a piece, go ahead and ask the dealer about the history. If the dealer knows the stuff well, you may not be able to “steal” the item but you may still be able to negotiate over the price.

Be discreet

Don’t try to barter with a dealer in front of other people. Wait until there’s not as many people around and ask the dealer if you could possibly get a better price. The dealer isn’t going to want to give other people the idea that everything is negotiable.

Watch your body language and your words

The dealer knows how the game works and will be watching you to get clues on what you are willing to spend and not. Don’t give anything away. Keep a “poker face” on as much as possible as you negotiate.

Also watch how much information you offer. The dealer will try to engage you in conversation to find out things like whether you are a collector, what are the favorite items in your collection, how long have you been collecting and more. What the dealer is really trying to do is find out how much you want the item. If you give up too much information, the dealer will be able to tell you want the item enough that you are willing to pay a higher price.

That doesn’t mean be pushy or dispassionate. It’s OK to show some enthusiasm over your find. A dealer may be attached to a piece and willing to let it go if he or she trusts it’s going to a loving home. Watch your dealer for signs of which way to go and act appropriately.

Widen the negotiations

If you are interested in more than one item, try to negotiate on both together. The dealer may or may not go for it, but a willingness to buy more than one item may loosen the price a bit. You may also get other deals, such as an offer by the dealer to deliver the item, repairs to the item for free or at a reduced price, and a free or reduced price on a cleaning or polishing. Generally speaking, if the piece is marked “firm,” there will be negotiating a better price. If the item is marked “as is,” that means there are some condition issues, such as a crack or chip, but there may be room to negotiate.

Don’t overdo it

Negotiating is about building a relationship. You don’t want to burn that relationship, especially if it’s a local shop or a dealer with whom you may try to negotiate again. It’s all part of the business, and both sides realize that. Be willing to know when you’re not going to get the price you want, and either pay the higher price or be OK with walking away.

These tips can help you next time you decide to find that perfect antique for the corner table. Keep them in mind as you scour through DexKnows for nearby antiques and collectible shops.

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Category: Antiques, Evergreen

About the Author ()

Central Ohio journalist with 15 years experience at daily newspapers. Freelance writer and amateur photographer. Storytellers are my heroes, poets my idols and photographers my looking glass.