Welcome once again to another instalment of 'Blog Post Monday'.
I'll be honest with you, I've been suffering from writers block this week. The longer this lockdown has gone on, the more difficult it has become to think of new and interesting things to write about. So, I put a cry for help out on social media, asking for ideas of what you'd like to hear about and I received some very good responses. In fact, the idea for this week's blog was one of the suggestions sent in to me, so a great big thank you from me.
This week is about the do's and the don'ts of haggling over antiques. There can be a fine line between insulting and accepting, and I'm going to give you my thoughts on the subject as a collector, an antiques dealer and as someone who has worked in an antiques centre.
So, as always, get that kettle on, get your note pads out and let me tell you what you should and what you definitely shouldn't do when buying antiques...
Let's start by remembering that each antiques dealer is a small business. During my time working in an antiques centre, I feel like some customers forget this. Each dealer has paid a price for the items they sell. Each dealer has a lot of overheads that perhaps people don't realise. And each dealer prices their items to reflect these factors. Obviously, there will always be some wriggle room on price, but they are only able to do what they can do. I would suggest that, if you feel an item is far more than you are willing to pay, find it somewhere else, because expecting a dealer to drop their price to meet your expectations is unreasonable.
One subject which is and will always be a contentious one is TV shows. Look, I love watching the antiques shows as much as the next person, but you must remember one thing, and this is extremely important. It is not reality. Having worked in an antiques centre which played host to a number of the popular antique shows, I will let you into a secret. A lot of the ridiculous discounts offered up to the stars appearing on these shows are scripted. Not all of them, but a lot of them. In the case of the antiques centre I worked at, the discounts weren't offered up by the dealers themselves, but by the centre. This is in exchange for the publicity they get from the show being aired to millions of viewers around the world.
I remember one instance when a customer came into the centre and saw a collectible he was interested in, which was priced at £98. He took me over to the cabinet and said, "look, I know how this works, I watch 'Bargain Hunt'... I want this item and I'm willing to pay £25 for it. That's my final offer...!" Whilst I do love all of these TV shows and they do get a lot of people interested in antiques, they have also had an impact on the trade. People expect to buy items for next to nothing and, unfortunately, this is not how business works.
Let me put this to you. When doing your grocery shopping at the supermarket, do you get to the checkout and start demanding to pay 20p for that £3 bunch of grapes...? You don't, do you? What you do is, you weigh up how much you really want them, against the price. If you decide you do want them, you pay the price attached to them. Whilst I'm not saying there shouldn't be a process of negotiation within the antiques trade, I am saying that you can tell the difference between a serious buyer and someone who is chancing their arm at getting something for nothing.
I accept that haggling is part of the trade and I love the fact that it is. I think we can all agree that you get quite a buzz from the whole process. But let's remember the points we've already discussed when we enter into the negotiation process. In my eyes, the average industry discount is about 10%. If you go into most antiques shops or centres, you will, in most cases, receive a discount of around 10%. Obviously, there will always be the odd exception, but in general, I'd say it's the going rate.
There are, of course, certain situations whereby a dealer may be more generous with their discounts. For example, if they have old stock and want to keep it moving, or, similarly, if you're interested in buying a number of items. But, please manage those expectations. All dealers are different. Some will offer more discount than others. Just because you got a hefty discount from one dealer, do not expect to get that same generous discount where ever you go.
I have been there, done it and very quickly learnt that you can't be a moron. Nobody likes a moron. People are more likely to cut you a deal if you're not a moron. Generally, I live by the rule that 10% is the going rate, but if you're in the trade, dealer to dealer, you will likely get a bit more, it's just the way business works. But again, I have learnt to manage my expectations and have set a bar of 20% for trade deals. I never expect any more than that, but if I do get offered more, of course, it's very satisfying. But, please, never expect. Entitlement is an ugly trait. In fact, if you're in the trade, it may well give you a bit of a reputation and word travels fast in the antiques community. So, behave yourself.
To conclude. My top tips for haggling over antiques are:
1. Remember that each dealer is a small business and has overheads.
2. Don't think you're on 'Bargain Hunt'.
3. Manage your expectations.
4. Remember that 10% discount is the going rate within the industry.
5. Remember, expecting any more than 20% discount is unreasonable.
6. Don't be a moron. Be nice, be respectful and you'll be surprised at where it takes you.
Well, that's it for this week folks! I hope you've found this guide enlightening. As always, let me know your thoughts and experiences in the comments section below. And, if you enjoy my posts, please show your support by subscribing to my blog, which you can do via the 'Home' page or by clicking on 'Create Account' at the top of this page.
Until next week, stay safe, keep buying those antiques and keep spreading that Source Vintage love!
Owner Source Vintage
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