THE ART OF THE HAGGLE - 5 NEGOTIATION TIPS FROM ANTIQUES DEALERS

The best bit about buying antiques is the negotiation. You either love it or you hate it.

It can make your crumble, or it can cheer you up to no end, depending on how the negotiation goes of course! I talked to a few of my dealer friends to get the do's and don'ts of haggling when buying antiques, in these negotiation tips from antiques dealers. 

1. SMILE AND SHOW YOUR LOVE FOR THE PIECE

In my experience, the best thing to do is be friendly. A smile will always go a long way! It's better to be cheeky than stiff. Dealers like to have fun too, so make it fun for them to do business with you. The more you build a relationship with your dealer, the better stock and offers you will be shown in the future. 

'if someone demonstrates some knowledge and a genuine love for the item or items in question then I will happily offer more discount because I know it will go to a good home.' - Aaron Andrews, The Gifted Few

'Every deal is different, but the attitude of the potential buyer plays a major part.' - George Johnson, Lady Kentmores

'Be polite and reasonable, you may need to do business with them again one day.' - Elizabeth Fell, Antiques buyer 

2. BE REALISTIC WITH YOUR OFFER 

Never expect a discount. Trying to come in too aggressive or fixated on a low price can be insulting. Dealers are trying to earn a living here - for most it's not 'just' a fun hobby.

On bigger items you have a little more leeway to negotiate. Up to 15% is seen as reasonable. Going in loads under that could come across as patronising. I always find it helps to explain to a dealer why you are asking for the discount, for example if you have found some scratches on the surface or the foam in a chair may need to be changed. If the item is perfect and well priced anyway then there is no need to haggle - it's not a MUST in antiques buying. 

The silent rule is not to haggle under £20 (unless you're at more of a boot fair type market). 

'Personally I am quite happy to hear the interested buyer's offer, I never feel offended even if an offer is ridiculous. As long as I can make a decent profit I am happy, and if I feel it is too low I either leave it or discuss it.' - Lucie Renée Marchelot - The Indian Art Centre  

'Generally antiques centres have a 5 to 10% movement but often won't move as items are reasonably priced to start with. Discounts vary drastically with lots of variants, I have no set percentage and personally only discount for trade. It should not be expected that a discount will be given.' - Lawrence Mitchell, Heirloom Antiques Restoration

'I offer a bigger discount than 15% sometimes but only if  A) the item is something id like to move on quickly, B) the client is going to return for more items or is buying several items at once, C) I've had the item for quite some time, D) the client plies me with a lot of red wine.' - James Gooch, Doe & Hope

3. MULTIBUY

When you're buying more than one item most dealers are happy to work out an 'all in' price that can often save you a few bob. So make sure you spend time seeing if there's anything else you might want to come back for later, or wait until you are looking for a few items before you visit. This way the dealers are happy that they are selling a few pieces of stock and you get the best price. Win-win! 

If someone is buying a few items I normally offer a deal to make the transaction larger and up sell.
— George Johnson - Lady Kentmores

'Be realistic about a haggle, in other words make the haggle worth it for both the seller and the buyer. Buy multiple items or make sure the item has some value. Don't haggle over the little things!' - Andrew Millea, Past Sense

4. REMEMBER, IT'S NOT ALL ABOUT YOU

As much as it's important that customers buy, dealers need to make a living. The antiques trade isn't easy. There are lots of overheads with having a premises or a stand at a show and dealers need to have a constant stock rotation, so remember that when you make your offer. The best deals are when you get a little off and the dealer is happy too. No-one wants to leave a deal feeling like they've been taken advantage of. 

'Remember the work and overheads every dealer has. Charm and politeness go a long way. It's also worth building up a relationship with a dealer, then deals will come naturally.' - George Johnson, Lady Kentmores

'Always be polite, attentive and gracious. It goes a long way! And keep in mind the dealer is trying to earn a living, not just turn over stock for the buyer's benefit.' - Lawrence Mitchell, Heirloom Antiques Restoration 

MY CHEEKY TIP!

Don't carry change. If you've haggled something to £45 but only have three twenties, most time the dealer will give in and take £40. I can't imagine this works on purchases over £100 but it's randomly happened to me more than once without me purposely trying to do it, so worth a go! Plus ALWAYS have cash, 9 times out of ten you can get a better cash price than on card.

Have you ever haggled on antiques or vintage items? What works best for you? If you have any tips share them in the comments below!

S x

P.S Thanks to the amazing Antiques Young Guns who provided me with the quotes above. You guys rock!