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Buying antiques? Here are 7 haggling tips

Whether you consider yourself an expert or a dabbler, stepping into an antique shop can be daunting. And if you’re unprepared, you can end up paying too much – or, at least, more than you have to. Here are seven tips that will help you haggle like a pro.   

1. Be friendly

This is a good rule of thumb in general, but it should always be at the front of your mind when trying to convince a stranger to give you a good price. Smile and be polite. Compliment the dealer’s store and pieces. Don’t think you have to pretend you don’t like the item in question. A dealer wants to see their pieces go to someone who will really appreciate them.

2. Carry cash

You can often get a better deal with cash than with card. Just be careful not to splash your notes around – you don’t want to reveal up front how much you have to spend. Also, consider keeping smaller notes and coins in a separate part of your bag rather than offering exact change. The seller might give you a discount if it means they don’t have to shell out change for a $20 or $50.

3. Make a reasonable offer

Don’t get the dealer offside from the outset by going too low. You can generally expect to land on a price that is around 10 per cent cheaper than the item’s ticket price, so start with an offer around 20-30 per cent lower.

4. Bundle up

If you’re buying three or four items you can generally expect a discount. Ask the dealer what they can do for you if you add X or Y to the sale. And remember, dealers will be keen to keep certain items together so it will give you some wriggle room if you’re buying a set. Conversely, if there is only one of an item that clearly belongs as part of a set you might be able to negotiate a discount as the dealer will likely be looking to get rid of it.

5. Ask first 

Don’t make an offer up front if there is no price marked. Ask the dealer what their best price is. This will give you an idea of what they are expecting and how much the item is worth. It also gives you the chance to make a counter-offer. 

6. Don’t be afraid to walk away

If you’re unsure and the dealer isn’t budging, don’t be afraid to walk away. You can always come back later.

7. Add some extras

If the dealer doesn’t come down to a price you’re happy with, see if you can make up the difference by negotiating extras. Can the dealer throw in free delivery? Can they have the piece cleaned or polished? This might sweeten the deal and make it worth your while.