bargaining and getting a deal

Part of Whatever Craft Weekend includes a little shopping at an antique store and ‘junk’ barn. I am not a fan of clutter and am in a purge mode regarding my house.  I’m filling up boxes for a garage sale, donating items and giving stuff away. I think things are feeling a little crazy around here and one of my ways of coping is to seek after simplicity…which often leads me to packing up stuff. All that to say, I was not planning on doing any shopping over the weekend.

That was the plan. Then I found two plates. Paid and walked out the door.

And then I saw it.

Green, pink, red…vintage tablecloth. It was one of the prettiest one’s I had ever seen. It was tucked back in the window and really hard to reach. I couldn’t see a price and didn’t want anyone to have to crawl back in there to get it if it was out of my range of what I was willing to pay.

So, I asked the woman working – who is also the town mayor –  to come outside and name me a price.

She said $22.00.

I told her I was only willing to pay $10.

She said $18.00.

I said $13.00 if there was no stains. $10.00 if there was a stain.

She said, “deal.”

We went back in and I climbed up to pull out my treasure. I squealed inside when I saw the $28.00 price tag.

I handed it to the mayor and reminded her we had to look for stains. It was stained (like 99% of vintage tablecloths are). Though I knew it was a steal for $13.00, I told her, “$10.00 it’s got stains.”…just because sometimes I like to be a bit of a spitfire.

We agreed on $13.00 and I got a picture with the mayor – who is my favorite in that store. Such a fun lady.

Pretty sure there has never been a more perfect tablecloth for me.

I think Mayor Mary liked me because she also let me talk her down from $18.00 to $10.00 for this old quilt.

It is important to our family to live within our means and on a budget. For me, that often means walking away from things I really like because they are more than I feel appropriate to spend. For the tablecloth and quilt I had set amounts in my head for what I was willing to spend. If she had not come down to those prices, I would have walked away. Living on a budget for my family means a lot of freedom and less stress. We say ‘no’ to buying a lot of stuff, but we also say ‘yes’ to other things.

I thought I’d share a couple pictures of the studio to show you some other ‘deals’ I got to furnish it.

Thrifting and bargaining works well for my style….and our budget. While I consider myself pretty good at talking with vendors at garage sales, flea markets and estate sales…my friend Erin is amazing at it. I watched Erin get some incredible deals over the weekend. I’ve seen some people try to bargain and they do it in a rude way. Erin was full of humor and grace and quickly won over the seller. When I posted the pictures of me and the mayor on Instagram, a few asked for a blog post on bargaining tips. Well, I asked Erin if she would share her tips because she is pretty fabulous at it.


  • Try not to show how excited you are about the item. On the flip side, don’t act like it’s a piece of junk.
  • If you have the choice, bargain with a man. Men tend to have fewer emotional attachments to for-sale items, at least in my experience. Smile big and be friendly.
  • Feel free to point out obvious flaws–they are “worth” a discount. But don’t be nit-picky. A tiny pinhole in a pristine quilt top isn’t going to equal a major discount. And again, you’ll look rude. That doesn’t play in your favor.
  • If you’re buying several items, your best bet sometimes is to try for a bundle deal.
  • My general rule of thumb is to offer 40%-50% LESS than the price marked. If the item has obvious flaws, I’m hoping to settle on a price close to the 50% off mark. If it’s in great condition but I’m trying to save some $$, I hope to settle around the 25%-40% off mark. You should have a general idea of the price you’d like to settle at BEFORE you make your offer. And your offer is ALWAYS lower than that amount. 9 times out of 10 the seller will counter offer. Don’t be afraid to counter their counter offer. It’s the name of the game. And you’ll be able to tell really quickly if they’re having fun with the ‘haggling game’ or if you’re just making them mad.
  • If the seller has been flexible with you on some prices, be kind when they’re actually firm on a price. It doesn’t hurt for you to give in to *them* a little bit, especially if you still have more items to negotiate on.
  • Don’t be afraid to walk away from an item. If you and the seller can’t agree on a price, and if it isn’t something you MUST have, then it’s ok to leave it behind. Many times the seller will stop you before you get too far away and give in, selling it to you at your price.

Aren’t those great tips!!! Erin has a small afghan sale coming up this week on her Instagram Vintage Shop…if you like afghans you should check it out. She has other sales throughout the year, but the items go fast, so you have to be fast! Thank you Erin for taking the time to share those with us!

You can find Erin here: her blog, Instagram, Instagram Vintage Shop

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