Ask Snag: How to Negotiate


It’s here! It’s finally here! Just in time for crazy garage sale season. This guide will help you in getting the most of your pocket full of quarters and dollars and help bring home a van full of vintage goodies.

1. The first step and most important step to negotiating: be nice. Seriously for the love of all things, be nice. I’m assuming all of our readers are nice since we’ve only had nice comments so far (thank you commenters!). The Snag team has seen it all: a man running up to one of us and verbally berating us to get a “deal” on a harp (yes, I know, a harp), a woman throwing quarters and dimes at the checkout person, and a great amount of other general nastiness. But it’s simple: show the seller some respect and you’ll (probably) get some respect. If you try to get a deal by being aggressive, pointing out flaws in merchandise or insulting the seller’s pricing, it’s not going to end well for you.

This doesn’t mean you need to accept any price, but almost 90% of the time you will be refused a price reduction if the seller doesn’t like you.

2. Be enthusiastic—but not too enthusiastic. Sellers like to deal with motivated buyers—they don’t want to waste their time dickering with someone who might just change their mind anyway. As tempting as it can be to stay aloof and give off a “I could take it or leave it” vibe, you might get a better deal if you seem genuinely interested and give them a cue that you will indeed buy the item if you strike a deal. Just don’t get carried away—nobody is going to give you a deal if they’re certain you’re going to buy it anyway.

3. Know your price. What are you willing to pay if this is going in to your home? Do you love that dresser? Will it haunt you at night if you don’t purchase it? The last dresser and nightstand set I purchased was off of Craigslist. It was listed for $300 and I really didn’t want to pay that much for it. I had exactly $200 in cash and knew if I offered less than that and some other Craigslist buyer snatched it up I was going to be bummed. So I called the seller and negotiated on the phone and simply stated, “Your dresser is beautiful and I love it, but would you be willing to accept $200 cash? That’s all I have at the moment.” Nice, no lies, plain and honest. She said yes. Woot.

4. Know their price. Refer to our guide on how vintage items are priced as a starting point. But don’t stop there. Unless it’s the first day of a sale and the item you’re negotiating for is in demand, you can generally get at least 10–20% off items priced over $20. Flea markets, antique malls, shops all generally have a small discount. Sometimes more. Once I was going to purchase a mid century hutch for $80 and asked the front desk if the dealer had any discounts or sales. Yes, turns out they did and I purchased it for $60. Ask if they can do any better on the price.

Knitting basket and tensor light

5. Buy in bulk. If you walk up to pay and you have amassed a ton of things, you will get some better deals. If all of your vintage wallpaper and lamps add up to $25, it’s highly likely a $20 offer will pass muster.

6. Don’t sweat the small stuff. A candle holder for $3? Eh, probably pay the $3. Unless you really only have $2 in your pocket left and there’s no other money shoved in your cup holder.

7. Timing. If you’re at the garage sale or tag sale on the last day, you can often get things for 50–75% off. Sure, it might not be the most stellar pickings, but you never know.

8. Know when to walk away. If you feel like there will be no convergence between your price and a seller’s price or you start to feel uncomfortable, seriously it’s just stuff and leave it behind. Once, I picked up an old fortune telling book in the bottom of a mouse-turdy box at a flea market. The seller told me it was very rare and said it was $100. Really? Then he launched into a diatribe about investing in antiques and how could I be so stupid not to pay his price? I walked away and never went back to his booth again.

Does this help to boost your confidence and save you a few dollars? Any tips we have missed? Please share in the comments or shoot us an email.

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The Finds Started Popping Up

Last week I found my usual mixture of random goodies. It all starting at a Thursday sale where I found a group of mushrooms. I have not a clue what I will do with all these but it’s a nice sized crop of mushroom candles and tiny candle holders.

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photo 2 (78)Friday morning my mom and I stopped by a few garage sale. We found a lot of newer useful items but it’s not the same thrill as the vintage finds like this 1920’s Art Deco candy tin produced by the “Queen Anne Candy Company”.

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And this large galvanized metal water cooler.

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I also found an arm full of smalls pictured below. The story I was told of this black and dark orange vase was that it was brought back from a Europe vacation in the early 1970s. They picked up fresh flowers at different stops of their trip so they needed a vase for them to travel in. I’m so glad they used this amazing piece of pottery. The owl planter was a $2.00 find and still has the floral shop sticker on the back of it. Could you imagine having flowers or a plant show up in this as a gift for you? So cool! It does have a plastic ladybug that my kids popped right off. Thanks boys! Last is this beautiful lady head. I don’t know much about it but it is labeled Marwal and dates from the 1960’s.

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My most exciting find from Friday was opening up this box priced at $1.00. The sale had been open for hours by the time I found this. Would you have opened it? The inside holds an antique treasure.

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Pretty amazing, right? Austin and his mom helped me date it to the mid-1800’s!

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I didn’t head out to sales on Saturday until around ten o’clock in the morning and didn’t find much, but this little table came home with me for $3.oo.

week5-20-15My favorite find of the week was at the same sale Austin posted about yesterday. Check out this lava glazed ceramic lamp I hauled home for $10.00! It is such a huge lamp, full of color and in great shape.

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I hit some really fun sales and I guess it goes to show that the early bird doesn’t always get the worm!

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A Chair-tastic Weekend

This weekend I owe all of my finds to Tammy. With phone calls and texts she lured me away from what was shaping up to be a nearly a shopping-free weekend to a couple of pretty good sales. While there were some smalls and other fun finds to be had, I’m most excited about a crop of chairs that made their way home with me.

Tammy: “I saw a sale in town and it has some things you might like. Did you get my email?”

Austin: “No, let me go check…”


And within seconds of seeing this chair I was out the door and on my way, before even getting off the phone with Tammy. She knows me well. I love this chair. It has unusual proportions and beautiful sculptural arms and legs.


And it’s comfortable too. I know because, despite being filthy from years of storage and unglued at nearly every joint, the lady selling it insisted I sit down and try it out. “Oh…(choking on a massive dust cloud)…it is comfortable.” What makes it so comfortable is the unusual suspension system.


I’ve seen rubber straps, metal springs and even fiberglass mesh used to hold up seats, but I’ve never seen an “Elasta Seat” rubber mat like this. Fortunately it’s in excellent condition. The upholstery on the other hand is more than past its prime. It will eventually be making a trip to the upholsterer.


There was no shortage of chairs at this sale, I also nabbed this Danish teak number.


And other than needing a little cleaning and some new foam, he’s in pretty good shape. I wasn’t able to dig up much information on Durup Polstermobelfabrik, though.

IMG_7447And for an American take on the loose-cushion lounge chair I also found this.


But my most questionable chair decision of the entire weekend (possibly the year) is this big fella.


As I was perusing boxes in a garage packed to the rafters I saw just a corner of this chair peaking out from under an enormous pile of drapes. Seeing it had caught my eye, the lady told me she had custom ordered it from Selig in 1973. I excitedly unearthed it—and then realized the upholstery was ruined. Destroyed actually. And it’s totally the best part of the chair.

IMG_7455I know, right? Sadness. Initially I left it behind—physically. But it was on my mind the whole afternoon. So, I shot my upholsterer a quick picture and asked for a rough estimate. The price wasn’t as scary as I thought, so I eventually caved and bought the chair and matching ottoman. It’s probably not the worst $20 I ever spent. I just kept thinking about how it was buried in that garage and would probably get thrown away eventually. So I took pity and took it in.


Despite its “loved to death” appearance, the lady’s late husband was right: “it’s one of the most comfortable chairs I’ve ever sat in.”

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A Week Full of Finds

Last Thursday, a friend and I hit a tag sale that started at two o’clock in the afternoon. This start time gave me little time to shop but I planned it just right. I gave myself thirty minutes to shop before heading to the school to pick up my boys. It all worked out and I was super excited with my twenty dollars worth of finds. The sale started in the garage where I headed straight for the table of Christmas.

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The first thing I grabbed was this ceramic Santa planter. It is by far the biggest I own. He stands at 1 foot tall.

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Santa Planter

Oh my! These ornaments were my next grab from the holiday table. A fun variety of different types of old fragile ornaments. There were more boxes of ornaments but I picked out my favorite and headed into the house.

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Once inside I picked up this piece of Hull pottery for my mother’s collection. And although it was filthy I was very pleased with its $3.00 price tag!

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After a quick and soft scrubbing with a magic eraser it looked like new!

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Next I found a beautiful older large round mirror for $2.00! This mirror is already hanging above my sink in our quest bathroom.

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The last thing I found at the tag sale was this antique football group photograph. It is big measuring 10″ by 15″ and is dated 1912. Not a bad find for $3.00.

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After this tag sale I was good with not finding anything else the rest of the weekend, but why not give it a try? My sister and I headed to a citywide garage sale Saturday morning where the majority of our finds were toys for our kids. Ugh! But I did find this one amazing 1949 advertising calendar. It is now hanging in my bedroom and at just over 3 feet long it makes me smile every time I see it. It was the perfect $5.00 find! You never know what you might find if you just get out there and look!


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Big Move and More

My family made a big move a few weeks ago. We bought this 1972 beauty and have been spending every minute transforming it into our home. It’s been tons of work and we still have boxes everywhere but we have made this adorable place our home. Although moving has put into perspective how much stuff I have collected over the years, I couldn’t resist stopping by a few sales.

1972 House

I was shocked when I walked out of Salvation Army with this old advertising calendar. This 1928 print by Earl Christy was once a yard long calendar that years ago was unfortunately trimmed down to fit this frame. The calendar advertises Selz Good Shoes. Salvation Army, you didn’t disappoint for once!

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Normally, this time of year I’m spending every Thursday, Friday and Saturday hunting garage sales. I did take about 3 weeks off this year to work on the house but was back at it this past weekend. I found a few smalls. I’m trying super hard not to buy so much. Ugh!

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photo 3 (30)I’m pretty sure my mom was as excited as I was when we pulled up to a garage sale and spotted these lawn chairs greeting us. It’s a little foggy but I may have ran up to this sale, expecting to hear they have already been sold, but instead I packed them into my van at a mere $5.00 each!

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This rocker and chair does need a little work but surprisingly still have their original paint on them. Most metal chairs will have layers of paint on them.

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What do you think? Should I change the color or just clean them up?

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