Western Interiors Magazine had a fantastic interview with Designer Windsor Smith that was particularly fascinating.

Did you know she once was an antique dealer?

A great knowledge of antiques is a foundation to great interior design. After all, antiques are still some of the best furniture you can purchase these days.

Smith tells Western Interior that her own personal design and decorating is focused around elements of the past but recreated in a new way, as she describes her style as:

I like the idea of a new vernacular pitched against classic sensibilites. Everything should feel like it is of the present but also has some kind of thread to history” as she tells Western Interiors magazine.

She is not afraid of using punchy forbidden colors most people wouldn’t dare touch such as dark navy she used in her kitchen, and toxic pink she splashed in her dining room.

If you happen to be someone who loves shopping for antiques, you know that price negotiation is sometimes a necessary part of the process of scoring that one of a kind item at a good price.

It can be difficult to know what to say in order for a dealer to negotiate down to the price you want in your head.   Here are a few tips when shopping at flea markets, or in antique stores…..

1. Don’t Be Shy About Approaching A Dealer 

You want an item, but you are afraid of asking for a deal.  Have you been there? 

Negotiating with antiques dealers is easier than you think, so don’t be shy.  They want to sell their merchandise, and you want to buy it.  It should be a win win situation.

A dealer will not know you want to negotiate unless you tell them, so step forward.  It gets easier with practice.

When you find a particular item you are interested in, locate the dealer and ask if they are willing to negotiate on the price. Do not approach them loudly or make a scene, otherwise they may dismiss you right away. Don’t shout across the room for a price.  A friendly smile ALWAYS smooths out any transaction.

Know that some dealers are often willing to negotiate and others will not budge on their prices. That is the way it goes.  Every dealer will respond differently.  Remember, antiques dealers have to make a living too.

Know that the price set on items is always marked up a certain percentage, as dealers expect to be haggled with.  They expect you to negotiate prices… that’s the game of garage sales, flea markets, estate sales, and so on..

2. Be Reasonable With What You Are Asking

If you find a decent item that is already priced fairly well, a dealer may not negotiate much more.  It doesn’t hurt to inquire, so by all means ask.

You can offer them your price.  If the dealer is willing to negotiate, then you know they probably want to sell the item and are willing to consider working out a price.

Always offer less than you want to pay. Expect the owner to offer to meet you halfway between their price and your offer.

The “What’s your best price” question is like asking someone to negotiate with themself. Just step forward and make the first offer.

You can then begin the bargaining process by asking the dealer if they will take a certain amount for the item. Some dealers will go back and forth with you, and others may not. Just remember to be reasonable on your approach and offers.

You don’t always have to haggle.  It might depend on the price, and how much you like it.  If you like a small item for $5-$10 dollars, maybe it isn’t worth your time to try to get a dollar off.  Custom made jewelry, or needlepoint that has been made, I personally never really haggle, or offer low amounts for.  Sometimes it can be a slap in the face to someone who spent hours knitting something special and delicate.

Decide if you really want it, and if you are willing to walk away from it.  Often times when you walk away, dealers will accept your offers…….and other times they don’t.  Decide what you would like to pay, and then what you are willing to pay, and stick to those margins. This allows you to play hardball when you know where you stand.

3. Politely Point Out Flaws if Necessary

Although most antiques dealers know their merchandise well, small flaws often go unnoticed.

If you find a piece that you love but notice that it has a flaw, you can politely point out the flaw to the dealer. They may or may not already know the flaw exists. The dealer might be willing to negotiate the price of the item, but from a sellers point of view, it can be irritating, because people use this as a fishing technique for a lower price.

On the other hand, the marked price may already reflect the flaw. In the world of antiques, you just never know. If you want to negotiate with a dealer, don’t insult their pieces.  Tell them you are considering the piece, but it has some flaws, and ask them what their best price would be.  Be ready to counter in your head where you see the price at.

Always consider the maximum price you have in your head that you are willing to pay.

4. Ask for a Package Deal

Sometimes the best way to negotiate with antiques dealers is to ask for a package deal. If you find a group of items that interest you, ask the dealer if they are willing to sell them for one price. Since many antiques dealers prefer to sell more than one piece at a time, this could give you a discount on all of your items.

5. Ask for More Information

Most antiques dealers know a great deal about their pieces. If you have your eyes set on a certain item, but are not completely sold, ask the dealer for more information, this could open up the conversation tennis match and get the dialogue going.  It is better to start the conversation on almost any topic OTHER than asking for a discount.  Depending on the history and rarity of the item in question, they may be willing to negotiate a bit on the price. By asking for more information, it also shows the dealer you are serious about the item. In return they may be happy to give you a discount.

When you shop for antiques, you never know what you are going to find.  That is the beauty of shopping for antiques!  The same goes for antiques dealers. Some are more willing to negotiate than others, and you never know unless you ask.  Antique dealers have something in common with you…  You love antiques and so do they!  Ask them what they collect, and what pieces they have found that excite them.  Now that you know some tips, you will be able to effectively negotiate with antiques dealers. Now go hunting!

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