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Save at the Mall by Shopping at Kiosks

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?


  1. Weird I always thought kiosks were overpriced, but I guess I've never stopped at one so how would I know? I'm definitely going to try this out if I ever need something that is being sold at a kiosk.

    • They are overpriced, but part of me know thinks that this is so they can bargain the prices down a lot lower. And honestly, the original price of $70 for a purse was nothing compared to what I had been seeing in the department stores.

  2. I am not a fan of kiosks. I was going to say – outlet shopping is the best. I have gotten brand name bags for less than $50 and the perk of a brand name bag is that they don’t break as easily in my opinion since I tend to destroy everything in my path.

    Also, online clearance sales sometimes on sites has great deals. I have gotten some cute bags even for $20 from Forever21.

    • That's my problem, too. Beating purses up. So I don't like spending that much on something I'm most likely going to be setting on the ground when I go to class or on rare occasion a restaurant. Outlets can be great depending on the store and which sales they have going on! Great advice.

  3. HA femme, it's like you were in Mexico!

  4. Interesting. I have never tried this but at the same time the kiosks rarely sell anything I need. I will have to try it out if I find myself needing on of their items though.

  5. tacklingourdebt says

    You got an excellent deal. Your conversation reminded me of shopping at the flea markets in Mexico.

  6. Cant say I've ever bought at a kiosk, mostly because by the time I hit a mall or similar shopping center, I have an item and a store in mind. I also really, really dislike that kind of 'confrontation' with strangers. I'm the kind that gets startled when a sales associate comes over offering help, so there's that. I never considered kiosks to be much of a deal, so I'll keep them in mind for the future. Thanks for the advice!

  7. Wow that's a great deal! Usually you can get those guys to lower their prices.

  8. Canadianbudgetbinder says

    We're not big mall shoppers and I can count on one hand how many times we've been in the mall this year. We did make one great buy at a kiosk and that was my wedding band for a whopping $18~ and it's perfect. Too many times we go in the mall and our mind starts working overtime. We start talking about the 'what if's " or " this would look great with" etc.. and we have to just walk away. Window shopping is fun, just leave the money at home!

  9. I don't think I've ever bought from a kiosk, and I definitely never barter. I'm such an American! I don't like being pitched or sold to at all.

  10. Go to Italy–you'll love the cute Italian boys that want to flirt with you…and barter. 🙂

  11. We buy occasional perfumes, watches and caps from the kiosks. We do it because we also noticed a rice difference. Kiosks pay less money than the stores.

  12. haha great!!! I love that. Sometimes it's fun to haggle like that 🙂

  13. My mom bought a flat iron from a kiosk at first i thought she got suckered but it's actually the best quality flat iron i've seen compared to other stores like Target and Walmart. My mom who is very particular about her hair also had a bought a flat iron from a beauty salon and that one crapped out on her vs. the kiosk flat iron is still working to this day. My girlfriend went and bought the same flat iron and i won't be surprised in the future if i buy the same one. So i guess if a kiosk has an item worth value yes you can find some deals but most sell knick knacks…

  14. I don't think I've ever bought anything from a kiosk other than travel planning many years ago. We don't really have those in our small town, but maybe I won't be so quick to ignore them the next time we go to the city.

  15. This is fantastic! I had no idea–I usually avoid kiosks like the plague. Can you come here and offer me a tutorial so I don't totally bomb the first time I give this a try? 😉

  16. I definitely avoid kiosks! I don't make eye contact and swiftly walk by. But the next time I'm in the mall, maybe I'll stop at a kiosks or two.

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