Letters to the Antique Trader editor

Ed. – Here are a few more thoughtful letters as our readers ponder the  practice of haggling over prices, first presented Sept. 23.

Politeness = lower prices

It’s been interesting reading the letters to the editors regarding rude dealers and customers.

Having been on both sides of the counter, I understand both sides of the problem. Never, and I repeat, never have I been rude to a dealer in regards to the price of an item I wish to buy. I have on occasion asked what their best price is and if it is still too much for me, I simply thank the dealer and leave the item behind.

As an antiques dealer myself for thirty plus years I have encountered many rude customers. Ninety-nine percent of all customers are very pleasant, but it’s the one percent with whom I have difficulty dealing. It truly is an insult to offer half of what an item is prices, or to ask me what I paid for an item.

Usually if a customer asked for a discount, I can give one, but if they counter offer, I usually go up from my original offer. If their offer can go down, mine can go up.

Recently I had a $3.00 item for which I was offered $2.00. I told the customer that if that was all it was worth, I may as well throw it away, which I did. I have a new sign behind my counter which states, “Beware. The prices may change, depending on the attitude of the customer”.

Some people may consider this rude, but many of my customers have laughed about it.

I doubt if you will publish my letter, but I feel better just have written it. Again, I love my customers, and I won’t allow one rotten apple spoil my day.

Larry Lynne
Williston, N.D.

Haggling is fun when it works for both parties

I agree with you totally about the subject of your Sept. 23 editorial on haggling. As you state, our current economy is rough for buyers and sellers and yet there are still some bright instances where both parties can win.

I was recently traveling through the mountains of central Arizona with my wife and stopped in at a charmingly eclectic antique shop. My sister-in-law, who was traveling with us, came across a small ceramic figurine by a renowned European manufacturer. She had been collecting the series by the manufacturer, a hobby started by her late mother.

My wife told me, “Lynn found a XXXXXXX and wants to know if you’ll talk to the owner as they want $42, which is pretty steep for her.”

I smiled to myself as Lynn said, “I know how you like to talk to people and I don’t know how.” So I took the object from her and went to the front counter. I presented the figurine to the propriator and said, “My girlfriend would like to know if there’s any flexibility on the price.” The shopkeeper looked at the price sticker, then gazed up at the ceiling of his store and I could see the calculating wheels whirring in his head.

“Well, things have been pretty slow,” he finally said. “How about $36?” I looked to my “girlfriend” and she quickly nodded. With a big smile I said, “Sold! Wrap her up!”

I think the reason this transaction worked is that the dealer was making all the decisions. He’s the one who devised the new price and we happily agreed. He got the sale at a price he could live with and my sister-in-law walked away with a treasure she could afford. Bad economy or not, haggling is fun only when it works for both parties to the transaction.

Keep up the good work with Antique Trader; it keeps getting better and better!

Jeff Adams
Santee, Calif.

Oct. 14 Question of the Week: Given all the methods of buying antiques, do you attend live auctions for low prices or to enjoy the camaraderie, goodwill and rapport of your fellow collectors and auctioneer?

All of The Above, of course!

Have been going to auctions since I was a little girl. Growing up in Indiana, I enjoyed going to watch, to meet friends, to buy, and to eat the great food! I’ve stood in 100 degree weather to bid on what I wanted. I’ve also stood out in the cold with snow falling from the branches down my neck.

I’m always ready for auctions that are well run. In the Midwest, auctioneers are a part of the community, just like other businessmen – their reputations count and their honesty is almost always above reproach. For those who cut corners, such as invisible bidders, etc, the ‘locals’ know in a minute. Would always adivse going to auctions for the best prices and the most fun … and the tastiest pie!

Becca Nakaya
via e-mail

Submit your opinions to Editor Eric Bradley at eric.bradley@fwmedia.com.