Sunday, February 12, 2006

Let's Make a Deal

I'm one of those girls. The kind sometimes cited in scientific literature, but rarely seen in the wild.

A girl who does not like to shop. Not for groceries, not for clothes, not even for shoes.

I don't mind buying all of the above. I just don't like to shop for them. At all.

There is one caveat to this statement. I love to bargain. I should have been born in a country where no prices are set and what you pay is determined by how hard of a bargain you are able to drive.

To sum it up: I hate to shop, but I love to bargain, and I don't mind buying.

This sets the scene for a few Saturdays ago when I was driving on my way to get my routine latte to start out my weekend. I was stopped at a traffic light when I spotted a sign - Rug Sale Today. It was outside of a rug cleaning company. I had used this company in the past to clean an oriental rug I dragged home from a trip to China. I knew they were respectable and knew their stuff. I smelled a deal to be had. And, I've been needing a rug for my living room.

So, I parked my car and went on inside. It was a warehouse type building. Inside there were a couple of salesmen and a bunch of piles of rugs. I know enough about rugs to keep myself out of trouble, so I started going through the piles. A salesman spotted me and came over with two assistants.....and the games began.

I found a few rugs that I liked. The assistants pulled them out of the pile and brought them out to the parking lot to show me the colors. I asked questions. The salesman answered them. I asked the price. He told me. I asked what his best price was. He accommodated me. Then he showed me a slightly higher priced rug and sold me on the better workmanship. We debated price. I told him I wasn't sure of the colors and hadn't intended on buying a rug that day. I acted unimpressed. He assured me the colors were perfect and gave me a better price. A small crowd gathered. I knew he was right and the deal was a good one. It was great fun. I bought the rug (and smiled sweetly to get him to throw in a rug pad for free).

I got the rug home and the salesman was right. The green works with my paint and my couch....the red with my chair.....and my leather chair blends. It was perfect. A 5'X8' Indian, wool, herati rug. Tighly hand knotted. A herati motif has a fish (carp) surrounding a rosette design - if you look closely, you can see them in the center. My kind of shopping.

3 comments:

Greg said...

I am right there with you on the deal making. When buying used or salvage I can't pay full asking price. I just can't.

Oh, and nice rug!

Kristin said...

I'm nervous about haggling but am trying to improve. :) I love that rug!

StuccoHouse said...

I think bargaining is all about the attitude. You have to think of it as a game. There actually are some instances where they expect you to try to haggle a bit. Rugs, cars, motorcycles, antiques, like Greg mentioned - salvage, even places like the farmers' market.

At the farmers' market, I use the classic...."if I buy four will you throw a fifth one in? ;-)" (the smile is important). With antiques...I try to make sure the owner recognizes me as a regular....then I will try a "would you consider taking $X for this piece?...I really like it" ($X being 10% off of the asking price). If they accept your offer, then you agree to buy. If they don't, either they will counter offer you....or you give them a "I tried" smile and then buy anyway or walk on. Honestly though, I've never been turned down.

As near as I can tell, rug shops will cut as much as 60% off of their listed price. I'm a little more vague in these situations and try a "Sooo....what is your best price on this one?" This process is more of a game. They are sizing up what they think you will pay/how bad you want it as you try to size up the best price you can get. I love that. If you think their first offer is still high....you throw out a "that's your *best* price ;-)? Or you start asking more questions about the item....maybe even do a close inspection of the item with a straight face(never criticize the item though). You need to do all of this while pretending that you really could take or leave the item....you are a serious buyer if the price is right. You should have a pretty good idea of the ideal fair market price....and be ready to pay it if they meet it. If you think they can go lower, but aren't....then say you want to think about it and prepare to leave. Either they will let you walk...or start dealing again. This all can take some time, but as long as they talk to you they are interested in selling you the item.

I occassionally go to San Diego for work. After the workday is done, you will find me scampering accross the border to Tiajuana just to go to the market and haggle.

Car dealers....its all about playing one dealer off of another. Oh, and internet research.

Gawd, its even fun to talk about.

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