So, enough with food. I know what you really want to know. How do I buy furniture and china and clothing and all of my favorite things without breaking the bank? How do I indulge without indulging? How I buy the things I want for the price I want? I'll tell you. We'll start with my favorite place: the flea market. To my loves at the flea market, please know I respect your work--I am merely a woman operating out of her need to be thrifty and brave. Remember, ladies, as fancy, poor girls we must always be frugal and never cheap.
First things first. Keep these things in mind as you go through these steps: You and your vendor share a love of things, particularly the things at the vendor's booth. Have respect. This is your vendors job and he needs to make money doing it. You and your vendor are in a working relationship to make sure that both parties are on the good end of a deal. And last but not least, a smile and silence are your 2 best negotiating tools.
1. Scan the tables for desired objects.
2. When you have located the object of your desire say hello to the vendor, but don't touch the object. Saying hello is important, as the flea market is not just any market--it's a relationship. Ask the vendor if they are local or from out of town. Tell the vendor how lovely his or her things are. Get them talking to you.
3. Compliment the vendor on lovely items. Contrary to popular belief, down talking items is not going to get you a better deal--it'll only make the vendor mad. Remember, you are in a relationship.
4. After the vendor likes you and is watching you pick up at least 4 items and put them down before you pick up your desired item.
5. When the desired item is in your hand look over it and detect any holes, chips, or flaws.
6. ask how much it is. They will tell you the highest amount they think they can get for it.
7. Find any other items you may want to purchase and find out how much those are before you begin negotiating (I know, I know, it's called haggling. But haggling sounds so close to hag that I can't bring myself to use it). Sometimes the price they ask for is a great price and you pay it. If it's not worth that to you, read numbers eight and nine. I have divided step # 8 into 4 different scenarios.
8. A) If the vendor specializes in one particular item, chances are good that he is deeply passionate about that one item (say vintage clothing, china, silver, hardware etc) In this case you may not name your own price, as it might offend. However you may say, "This piece is beautiful and I really want it. However, I can't afford that today, would you take any less for it?" Be silent and wait. Asking for a lower price is not emberrassing, nor is it out of the ordinary--it's how the flea market works.
B) However, if the vendor has a conglomeration of things you may name your price. Do not ever go below 55% of the named price--it's disrespectful and they will scoff at you and send you on your way. When the vendor says $10, evaluate the object. If it's not worth $10 to you, you may say "This piece is beautiful and I really want it. However, I can't afford that today, would you take $7?" Then be silent and wait.
C) This is acceptable for either booth. If you have multiple items you want to buy from one vendor, ask them to cut you a deal. If the vendor is specialized he will name the price. If he is not specialized you may name the price.
D) During step #5 you may have detected a flaw. You may say, "It's a really lovely piece, but it does have a hole under the arm-pit. However, I still really like it and would like to try to fix it. Would you take $6 instead of $10?"
9. Be prepared for the vendor to dislike your price and do not take it personally. She may say, "No, no. That's too low. How about $8?" If it's worth it to you, do it. If it's not, ask for $7. However, she may not go down to $7, in which case you must make the decision to pay the $8 or walk away.
10. Always, always leave on friendly terms. You never know what the vendor will have at the next flea market.