Friday, December 11, 2009

Can We Talk about Garage Sale Haggling?

Garage Sale Fabric

A few weeks ago I stopped at a local garage sale. It had an odd assortment of stuff and was clearly a man's house. Frankly, I didn't know what half the stuff there was. Car parts maybe? Nothing was priced which I don't really like.

There was this one grungy copy box with the lid closed and I happened to peek. It was full of fabric. I riffled through the fabric and thought of offering him a couple of bucks for the pieces I liked. Seeing as I didn't need more fabric, I walked on. But because fabric has a hold on me, I had to ask the price. "$20 for the box of fabric." Twenty bucks! Frankly, if I had $20 for fabric on that day, I would go to Michael Levines and get either 10 pounds of fabric in the Loft or a few really choice yards of fabric that I loved. So I said, "No thanks."

A moment went by and his friend chided him saying, "So what time are we going to start loading all this over priced stuff back into your garage."  He came over to me and asked me what I would pay for the box. I said, "Seven dollars. It's what I have, and frankly, I can get fabric for a $1 a yard downtown.Plus I only want about half the stuff in the box. The rest I will just give to Goodwill."

His friend made the deal and I got the fabric, but not before the homeowner made some kind of remark about how people want you to give everything away for free. He commented that "people" nickle and dime until "they practically think he should be paying them to take his stuff."

I was a bit turned off. Yes, I haggled, but I was honest. I can get cheap fabric downtown. I don't need any of it and I only had $7 cash in my pocket. Besides, it's a garage sale! If I wanted to pay full price- well, I am not sure where I would go. Every place has sales now days.

Turns out, I got a fantastic deal. There was a lot of crap in the box, but underneath there were some gems as pictured above.

So do you haggle? How do you feel about hagglers?

20 comments:

Lisa said...

I would consider your $7 a fair price for what's pictured above. That's what I try to do when dealing with garage sales and other haggling-type situations - I offer what I consider a fair price. I'm not trying to get some big steal, but they've got to realize they're not going to make big money on me either. Sometimes you can't meet on what both sides think is a fair price and then as the buyer you have to decide if you want the item badly enough to come up to their price. I don't always enjoy haggling, particularly when it involves someone like the guy you bought this from, but I'm always happy when I walk away with a price that I feel like both of us are okay with.

Nutsy Coco said...

I'm horrible at haggling, but I will walk away if I think something's too expensive. I think you were fair and honest and the guy shouldn't be expecting to get top price at a garage sale!

laterg8r said...

you should totally haggle and if he's turned off by that he should have his stuff on ebay with a minimum bid!

Jeanette said...

I am not a good haggler but my sister is the queen! When we were young we went to a local nightclub and she brought in a coupon for her drink! LOL

jodi said...

I think that you offered a fair price for what you got. Sometimes people having garage/estate sales over estimate what used/scrap things are worth. And then sometimes they attach sentimental value to things. Don't worry about it. You did well.

Ruth said...

Here's the disconnect on the seller's part: You DID NOT HAGGLE. You got the 1st price, you walked away. The seller's agent reinitiated the negotiation process by asking for an offer. You made an honest offer. They did not have to sell.
I can only imagine why a bitter-mouthed man was selling fabric at a garage sale.

Heidi said...

I'm not a haggler--I'm too chicken, usually. But I think if you have a garage sale, that's part of the territory. That guy clearly had NO idea of what the fabric was worth--which incidentally, is only what someone will pay for it! And he's not going to get anything for it when he has to donate it! He sounds like a crank. You did nothing wrong!

Katie said...

I used to sell things at our local farmers market where everything was clearly priced and people would sometimes try to haggle me on the things I was selling (which were handmade and brand new) and I always felt a little awkward and frustrated by that. However, I think haggling at garage sales and the like is totally appropriate. After all, it's stuff they want to get rid of, not precious little things they're trying to make a profit on.

Who needs sleep? said...

Oooh, I hate when grumpy old men run garage sales. I hate it even more when nothing is priced. You were such a saint to still have purchased the box after his rude comments. I would have given him a big smile, put the box down, and then walked away. Congrats on getting a good deal though.

Camille said...

Yard sales are so funny. I once bought a $100 pair of jeans with no wear or tear for $1. I even told the guy that he could get way more than that for the jeans, but he just wanted to get rid of the stuff! Then you have the people who are trying to get rich on a bunch of USED stuff that they obviously have no idea what its worth is. I'm not going to buy a $100 Christmas tree for $50 at a yard sale when I know I can get for $50 the day after Christmas brand new in the store.

I haggle if the items are priced fairly, but maybe a tad more than I want to pay. But if it is overpriced like that box of fabric, I usually just walk away.

Bec Shulba said...

haha - that old man sounds like something from a movie. you didn't really "haggle" - you walked away when he gave you a bad price. but then you were asked, so you answered honestly. that's the way to do it. well done. as for hagglers - i can never bring myself to do it. but if someone haggles me, i'm just happy to say "no" to their offer. then they feel silly when they are willing to pay the price i asked and buy it anyways. :)

Jennifer@ChesterAndDonkey said...

Your story is the number one reason why I HATE garage sales. Its so frustrating when nothing is priced. It shows that the person is unorganized and doesn't really care about what they have. If they want to get rid of it, price it (at a good price) and say goodbye!

That said, if someone gets an attitude with me - I'm the one saying goodbye! :) Buuut, its hard to pass up a good deal and, like the other ladies I agree that $7 was a fair price for what you got.

Whew ... glad I got that off my chest!

Arya said...

I understand that here in the USA, haggling is considered a bad thing but everywhere else in the world haggling is common and expected. I haggle when I deem it appropriate and have even done it in stores when there is a slight ding or dent on an item (because why pay full price on an item that's damaged?)

I also find that most people price their wares at garage sales waaaay too high, not realizing that those high priced items can be gotten for near or right at what they are asking. Why in the world would I pay full price for an item at a garage sale that I could get brand new for the same price at the local store?

Haggling needs to come back into style because an item is only as valuable as the person buying it thinks it is.

Robyn said...

I hate garage sales where everything is over priced... I do think you're doing the owners a favor rehoming some old stuff that they'd never use and would probably just end up in a land fill. I would have been one of the people offering $2 for the box... it's not like you're shopping at a store and picking out exactly what you want. It's just like you said - you'd give away the stuff that wasn't useful to you. That said - there are some cute prints in there.

Jane said...

Thanks ladies you have all made me feel better about it!

Goings on at the Glenn's said...

I haggle a lot too. I even haggle at the fireworks stands before the 4th of July. I have made some pretty awesome steals that way too.

the cottage child said...

I'm not a great haggler...but at garage sales, I'm pretty cheap, and I am seriously considering a garage sale how-to book that I will force my neighborhood association to make available on their website.

I have actually been yelled at by a seller, in front of my children, about how cheap/unChristian/unbusinesslike/trashy (the choicest of the names I was called, by a woman I went to church with) I was to suggest that because I was buying $215 worth of their unwanted junk, I was offering $200. Needless to say, she got $0. She hollered at me the whole time I walked down her driveway to my car, and at the other people who left the sale because she was being so ugly.

It is amazing how much people think their stuff is worth, even though they don't want it anymore. For future reference, garage sale fabric, unless it's vintage or handworked or rare, is only worth about 1/10th the original value, if that.

HollyLynne said...

$20 was WAY too much for a garage sale box of fabric. I don't like to haggle either . . . I probably would've done just what you started to do and walked away thinking of Michael Levine's :)

Tubo Family said...

I'm with everyone else...you were totally appropriate and it sounds like the seller was basing his price on an emotion rather than market value. As a garage sale buyer and occasional seller I EXPECT haggling aka discussing price. As a seller there have been a few times when I found myself not wanting to take an offer and realizing it was because I truly wanted to hold on the piece. And many other times where I sold things extremely cheaply or gave away just to see them go to use or to make space.

KT said...

I think people have to decide if they are having a yard sale to make money or get rid of stuff...two different things really. To make money, have a lot of stuff and sell it all cheap OR just sell everything cheap. Those are really the only good options imho...if you think something is worth more sell it to consignment or ebay, folks stopping at a yard sale DO NOT want to spend $20 at one stop unless it is a really fantastic deal:)