Haggling is Not Just for Garage Sales and Flea Markets

What do you think of when you first hear the word haggling? Do you imagine yourself at a flea market browsing the aisles for antiques? Or do you picture a garage sale with people looking through old boxes and milk crates full of odds and ends?

Most of my haggling has been done overseas while on vacation in a foreign country.



I absolutely love going to their local markets or even vendors on the side of the road and checking out their handicrafts. Locals know you’re a tourist and assume you have lots of money. In my experience, when I ask how much, I find they’ll often offer me a price which is pretty high (It helps to know the conversion rate to see if you’re being ripped off, as well as a bit of the language so you can ask how much and say things like too expensive).  And so begins the battle of bargaining, naming prices back and forth until either you’re satisfied or you walk away in search of a better bargain.

Sometimes I feel bad for walking away, but at the same time  I feel I have the upper hand. They just lost a potential sale. I feel even worse when they try to call me back, but sometimes you just have to walk away and move on.

I’ve had a few experiences haggling or if you prefer a better word, bargaining back home. One instance was when I was just about to purchase a pair of shorts that were already on sale. I noticed there was a button missing and asked politely if it was possible to have a further reduction on the price. The salesperson asked her manager and I ended up paying only $10 + tax for those shorts, which are in still decent condition.

The second instance with clothing was when I was going to purchase a winter jacket (again on sale) and noticed a rip in the inner lining (barely noticeable).  I mentioned it to the salesperson and that since it was the only one left in my size and the colour I wanted, I would be willing to purchase it if  he could apply a small discount. Again, he asked permission from his manager and I walked away with a nice jacket for a much cheaper price.

I don’t normally go looking around for already damaged clothing, nor do I intentionally try to damage the clothing just to get a discount. Like many people, I’ll do a quick check of the clothing to see if there are any holes, rips or buttons missing. If I can’t find one in better shape and if the damage seems repairable, then I have no problems in asking for a discount. I don’t see anything wrong with asking for a discount and being reasonable about the amount, such as an extra 5-15% off. All you have to do is ask politely.  The worse that could happen is that they say no. Stores want to get rid of last season’s clothing or clothes that aren’t selling well to make room for the new stuff.

I even consider price matching at the grocery stores or electronic stores as a guaranteed successful haggle. There’s nothing more satisfying than knowing you found a better deal and it’s given to you.

Kijiji is also a great place to haggle. It’s like one online giant garage sale. Although there is no rule set in stone in terms of setting a price, I personally think that all sellers should say on their ad that prices are negotiable within reason. It’s such a huge turnoff for me when I see that the seller says that this price is firm. Really??!?! You honestly couldn’t take off $10-$20? Next!

Do you consider yourself a haggler? What have some of your haggling experiences been like?

20 thoughts on “Haggling is Not Just for Garage Sales and Flea Markets

  1. The more expensive an item is, the more I want to negotiate/haggle. You must always negotiate the purchase of a house, car, or even apartment rental. Many retail checkers do not have the ability to negotiate, but as in your case, you can often negotiate a price on damaged or floor model items. I often haggle at the farmer’s market. And as you pointed out, you are almost expected to haggle in other countries. I haggle over everything in Mexico. I speak enough spanish that the haggling can actually be kind of fun. If I feel I got a real good deal, I sometimes slip the vendor back a few dollars to make sure he made a profit and for good public relations.

    • I have negotiated the purchase of our home (with help from our realtor, of course) and my car, but I never even though to negotiate my rent when I was living in the apartment. I’ve only shopped at the local farmer’s market a couple of times, but I’ve never tried haggling for produce.

  2. I’ll admit I have a difficult time haggling. I’d rather pay the price and be gone. Too much about the haggling concept feels like conflict to me, which I naturally want to avoid. I guess, if I had more experience with it the better I would become and not be so nervous about it.

    • I definitely wouldn’t consider myself an expert haggler. I think it’s all about being confident and firm. Worse case scenario, you end up paying their suggested price instead.

  3. I think I have a good bargaining skills. I will ask discounted price if I really like to buy certain stuffs. For me, it’s no use to ask for bargain price and deep inside you are not willing to buy it.

  4. Haggling isn’t just a nice thing to have, I think it’s essential to save money. I call my cable company every 3-6 months and settle on a fair price for the services. I also haggle on big ticket items like appliances and TVs. Obviously I don’t buy those often but haggling has saved me some serious money

    • My cell phone company is the one service provider I actually have a hard time haggling with. However, my contract is expiring in a few months, so that may give me some leverage to get a better deal.

  5. I hate haggling….I wish businesses would just set their prices and be done with it. Should someone get a better price just because they’re willing to stand at a hotel counter, hold up the line, and make the employee feel increasingly uncomfortable until they give in and give them a better rate than I got 10 minutes ago? I don’t think so. But then again, that’s my thought because my skills in this area are horrible. 🙂

    • When it comes to hotels, I don’t haggle. I use Hotwire.com to get the best hotel rates. I don’t know the hotel until I actually make a purchase, so it’s like a fun surprise! lol

  6. I love and hate to negotiate. It’s so stressful, but just a great adrenaline rush when you get what you want 🙂 I don’t really do it in a retail store, but I have called a company and asked for price reduction when an item I just bought went on sale; and of course I negotiate when buying a car.

  7. I’ve totally done that when clothes shopping. Even loose threads can get you a discount. I think they usually start at 20% in my area. I don’t go looking for damaged stuff, but like you said, if I find it in disrepair, no matter how minor, before I check out, I ask. Because why would you pay full price (or even standard sale price) for something that’s damaged when it’s brand new?

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