The art of Flea Market Haggling


Let me start this post off with a little story about how I completely failed at haggling recently at a flea market. It was so bad even my boyfriend laughed and said I needed to write a post about it. Bruised ego…check! Typically I'm very good at negotiating down prices but I met my match that day, this woman wasn't having it. I tried to haggle down a few dollars but she stuck so rigidly to her price and was not budging to save her life! So I'm writing this post to you in hopes that this doesn't happen to you ever, or at least not often!

I'm an assistant buyer by day and in my time working in the merchandising field, I've become best friends with a phrase called "Gross Profit Margin". To put the definition plainly, it's the money you take home after you subtract all of your costs. Many vendors sell at flea markets as their living, they pay rent for their tables, and hope to make a profit. So it's important to understand why they can be very stiff with their prices. The woman who was really tough with me just plainly let me know (after my failed efforts in haggling) what she paid for the items and what profit she wanted out of them. At the end of the day she was running a business, and that had to be respected. 

#1 Don't be intimidated or embarrassed when negotiating. Everyone does it, and most vendors anticipate it so they've started adding more money to their desired price for "haggle room". Start with 20%-25% off the asking price and work back and forth with the vendor from there! If you buy multiple items from one vendor you have more negotiating power!

#2 - Don't offer too little. If a vendor is selling an item for $10 don't offer them $2. Be reasonable and respectful!

#3 - Always carry cash in smaller bills. You never want to work at negotiating a price down and then insult a seller by asking them to break a larger bill to pay for it.

#4 - Shop later in the afternoon. While you may not get first dibs on some great merchandise, you will at least have the best advantage when negotiating. After 12pm vendors are exhausted, use it to your advantage to get a better deal!

#5 - Be prepared to walk away. Sometimes you just can't come to an agreement on a price and you have to walk away. It's okay! If you really want to buy it, try again later in the day if it hasn't sold.

So long story short, I caved and bought all the items I tried to negotiate down. I saw the value in them and couldn't walk away! Even though I didn't get the best deal, I felt good knowing I supported another small business!