This is a guest post from Femme Frugality, who was kind enough to help me out while I’m gone to Denver! Visit her blog to read more about saving and living in Pittsburgh.
I don’t usually shop at the mall. There are just too many temptations and my budget is too small to meet them all. The last time I went, though, I scored a huge deal.
The boyfriend owed me a new purse. He had convinced me my old one was no good so I threw it away with the promise of a new one. MONTHS later, we found ourselves browsing the mall. Department stores were a bust. Everything was somewhere between $70-200. I wasn’t even going to step into the Coach store.
But then we passed a kiosk. You know the type. You’re just walking by and a salesman starts harassing you about what he knows you need. You may get physically pulled in despite your loud protests. But if you listen to what they’re actually saying, you realize they’re bargaining with you. And the harder you fight, the lower they’ll go.
We slowed down. I thought it was a big mistake. We were immediately getting pitched. The purses were all some odd percentage off due to Labor Day. Everything except the overnight bags. Look at this one. Do you like that one? I looked over at the boyfriend, hoping he’d give me an out. “You should look and see if you like any of these,” he said. Great.
So I looked. I browsed. And I slowly realized that I really did like a few of them just as much as the ones in the department store that I couldn’t afford. I found a favorite. I mentally starred it, but the price tag said $69.95. “Was this on sale, you said?”
“Yes! Labor Day sale this purse $50.”
“Oh,” I said, putting it back on the rack. “I don’t know…”
“You know, I can charge you $40. Special price. Just for you.”
The boyfriend and I talked about it for a few more minutes. I knew $40 really wasn’t bad for a purse, but still…$40 was more than I wanted to spend on a bag. Can you tell that I have chronic buyer’s remorse? I finally put it back on the rack. “I just need some time to think about it. We’re going to go look some more and then I’ll be back,” I told the salesman.
He lowered his voice. “Twenty-five is the lowest I can go.”
I used to dodge these kiosks like the plague, but now if I’m ever in the market for something, I’ll make sure to target one. Here’s some tips for bargaining at the mall:
- Don’t act excited. Slow your pace when passing the kiosk in question. If that doesn’t get their attention, try to briefly make eye contact. If none of that works, bail. They’re not eager to sell and unlikely to negotiate.
- Take your time shopping. Don’t rush it. The longer you take, the more they’re going to feel like they have to come down to meet you.
- Don’t give a low-ball number when bargaining in a situation like this until the very end when you are close to a desirable price. You may be cutting yourself short; they may have been willing to go lower.
- This isn’t a deal-breaker, but for some reason I’ve noticed I’ve had more luck bargaining with foreigners. I think it may have to do with a cultural norm that American-raised salespeople don’t reach for as quickly.
- Make sure you’re prepared to get upsold. Instead of lowering the price, a common sales tactic is to include another item for free. If it’s something you were going to buy anyway or would truly add value to your life, great. But odds are if you weren’t looking for it, you don’t need it. Ask them instead to lower their price rather than bundle with other products.
Andrea’s note: I actually don’t think I’ve ever bought anything from a kiosk at the mall. I usually avoid them! The next time I’m looking for something in particular, I’ll have to check out the kiosks and see if I can get a good deal! Any readers ever have luck shopping at kiosks?