Wednesday, August 19, 2015

Reader Question: What To Do When a Thrift Store Item is Priced High? + Haggling

I'm getting a lot of questions about thrifting and reselling right now and I love it! I'm using stolen time to get a helpful reselling eBook written (and many more from there!) so please, send me any and all questions, it helps me make sure I write a complete book that addressed all the common problem areas. A reader, Tracy, sent me a long list of helpful questions that I'll address in the book (good ones like, "do thrifted items need to be in perfect condition" and "is there a quick way to tell if something's worth money or in high demand?") but the following is one that comes up often:

"When you find that perfect item at the thrift store but its priced to high in your opinion. My question is sometimes I see things in a thrift store and wonder if they have priced it too high. And even if its priced fairly when should you walk away from a piece that might be at a price point where you may not make money off of it and its not worth it. That made me think of one more haha. When thrifting at your local thrift store or at a goodwill or salvation army is it in poor form to haggle or is that considered smart thrifting?"
I like to be able to at least triple the amount I paid for the item, especially for reselling! If I did the math and it didn't equal at least twice what I paid for it, I will leave it alone. I will pay more for items that are extra special to me, that I really feel like I'll treasure forever for my own collection, but not for reselling. If I felt like I would only double the profit, I might still buy the item if it was very unique and interesting.

You will get a feel for what will sell for what price the more you resell, but in the meantime,  you can also whip out your phone in the store and find the same or similar listings and see if they sold and what they sold for. You should still continue research on the norm to keep your skills for picking the right items in your chosen "genre" sharp.

Haggling is a polarizing topic, for me it definitely depends on the venue, the amount of the item, whether it's a group of items and the "feel" I get from the individual. Most vendors from my experience are not insulted if you ask for a group deal, it helps them get rid of more stock. Asking for discounts at not-for-profit organizations that benefit charities is generally considered poor taste, but if it's a big and/or costly item or a group deal you're still giving them money and I don't think it's a problem. I'll admit I've been guilty of asking for discounts on items that were $3.00 or less long ago in the past, but now I have more empathy. That person's out there trying to make money just like you, just cough up the $3.00 if you really like the item or walk away if it's not even worth that much to you. There is plenty more junk out there. Trust me!

A rule of thumb with haggling, if the store's or individual's wares are very neatly categorized, organized, and priced, they are less likely to haggle. If the wares and jumbled and you have to dig, they are usually more welcome to haggling. This is not always true, I've haggled with very tidy vendors, and I've offended "junk" dealers by trying to make lower offers, but it's something to take into consideration.

What do you do when an item is priced too high? Most of the time I take a picture to remember it if allowed, then walk away. I will buy if it's something extra special and/or necessary.
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  1. The thrift stores around here are not good..mostly newish dollar store junk. I did find my fav sterling and huge chunk of turquoise cuff bracelet at a Salvation army in the Midwest for $7! It was so tarnished I didn't even know it was sterling until I cleaned it up! Estate sales I have to leave tons of cool items behind because they are not in my price painful. Estate sales generally don't haggle at all on day one,25% off on day 2 and whatever the last day is they do get a bit more "haggle friendly"...but the goods are more picked over. I had a shop I used to go to in the Midwest when I visited my folks that the more you piled on the counter, the cheaper it got. She'd say anything 10% off and at some point..OK 25% off! Antique estate auctions can be good, but you do end up with scads of stuff in box lots you have no interest in or use for. But that is sometimes where you find the "find" too. At my shows,I don't mind polite reasonable hagglers, but some are lucky they are not mind readers! :)

  2. I love the sound of that bracelet. I'm as far easy as you can get on the east coast almost, we never see neat western jewelry here. Same here with Estate sales, they may have nice stuff, but they tend to be expensive. I only outdoor shows for stuff I'm desperate to get rid of (2nd hand wise, not with my soap biz) so I don't mind doing deals.

  3. Goodwills near me have gotten a little ridiculous with their pricing lately. Especially with their bulk-purchased Target wares! I'll find new Target shoes that were cheaper at Target's clearance price than at Goodwill. I'm happy to see my money go to a good cause...but come on, now. $14 for slippers at Goodwill is outrageous.

    <3 Jackie @ Let's Go Thrifting

    1. Oh holy hell - that is beyond outrageous! Agreed, we love that it goes to a good cause and all but Slippers that have been on another's sweaty foot (granted, we wash them and they're good as new) shouldn't cost more than a couple of bucks.

  4. In my experience, thrifts are harder to haggle with..but sometimes they do allow it. Especially when you're buying an entire lot of something. But my strategy at garage sales and estate sales, which seems to work most of the time, is by asking. For example, if an item is marked at $5, I would ask, "Would you accept $3 for this?" I've never had anyone get offended using this method. It puts them in control..and all they can do is say no.

    1. I have the same experience with lots being better and thrift stores being hard to haggle with, but often obliging. "Would you accept..." is a nice way of asking, versus the "I'll pay $1 for this!" I hear people often blurt out at flea markets, before stalking away sulkily while saying, "PSH! It's not worth more than $1 I'm not paying that!"

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I love reading your comments. Thank you for adding to the discussion! I always reply to any and all questions.

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