The Nice Girl’s Guide to Haggling

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I love to shop yard sales for many reasons.  I love that they are full of unique things you just don’t find at Target.  I love the thrill of searching out that one amazing treasure in a huge pile of junk.  And I absolutely love getting a great bargain.

If yard sale goods didn’t have such great prices, they really wouldn’t be so exciting.


So how do you get these great prices?  Some sellers certainly don’t seem to realize they are selling used stuff off of plastic tables on their lawn and are a bit delusional in their pricing.  But, thankfully, most people having yard sales just want to get rid of unwanted stuff and make a little cash in the process.

The Nice Girl’s Guide to Haggling

As previously mentioned, yard sales are not like Target.  Prices are very flexible.  Most sellers expect people to bargain.  I used to feel bad about trying to haggle for a better price on things that are already so inexpensive. But I realized that the seller is there to sell stuff and I am there to buy stuff.  If we can find a way to make that happen, everyone is happy.


the nice girls' guide to haggling

When I think about haggling, I picture stony-faced old men who talk about how horrible something is to get a better price for it.  I don’t talk badly about the item I’m trying to buy.  If it were really so horrible why would I want to buy it?  I also do not insult the seller’s intelligence or argue.

I want to get the best price but what can I say – I’m a nice girl.  I don’t want to have to be mean to get a deal.  I have refined my haggling technique to get me the good prices with no need to feel guilty afterwards.  These are my tried and true strategies.

  • Have an idea of how much you are willing to pay for something before you ask the price. Pay attention to prices when you go to sales and you will soon see patterns emerge.  I have a great collection of vintage cameras. I paid $15 for one of my very first ones. With time, I realized that I could usually find them for $2 – $5 so that became my limit.


  • When you find something you like, ask the price.  Once the seller tells you a price, look at the item a few more minutes without saying anything.  This gives you a chance to think about whether or not you are willing to pay that price.  Sometimes the seller wants to get rid of stuff so badly, that as soon as you hesitate, they jump in with a new lower price.
  • If you think their price is a little high, ask nicely, “Will you take x?”  They will either agree, meet you in the middle with a new price, or say no.  Most of the time, they agree.  Don’t go too crazy.  Sometimes I just ask them to knock a dollar off.  Sometimes I ask for more.
  • If they are waffling, get out your cash and hold it in your hand.  Just the sight of cold hard cash (even tiny amounts) can really motivate a seller.
  • If you are buying more than one item, try to get one discounted price for the whole pile.  This almost always works.  Win-win.  They get rid of more stuff, you pay less.


  • If I recently bought a very similar item for less, I tell them.  “I just bought a bunch of frames just like this for a dollar each.  Would you give me the same price?”  Many sellers agree.
  • If they refuse to budge on the price and you feel it is too high, don’t be afraid to just walk away.  It is your money and nobody decides when you spend it but you.
  • And if the price they give me to begin with is more than fair, I don’t even try to haggle. I think to myself, “Well, I really like this lady.  She knows what she’s doing – I’m going to see if I can find something else worth buying here.”


What about you – do you haggle?  Are you hard core or more of a softie like me?  Do you have any other tips to share?

Be sure you don’t miss the rest of the series:
Shop Yard Sales Like a Pro
Have a Plan
What I Buy
See the Potential

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  1. says

    I tend to haggle like you do – more of a soft approach, and if something really is a great price, I’ll pay the asking price. I can’t wait for the yard sale season to start in earnest.(We woke up to snow this morning, so it’s not quite here yet.)

  2. says

    Awesome tips!! Thanks for coming to my NIFTY THRIFTY PARTY last week. Stop by today, because you have been featured at this weeks party. Please feel free to grab my starfish featured button (you can find it under my header) for your blog.


  3. says

    I’ve been garage sale-ing and “negotiating” for nearly 40 years. Even so, these are excellent refreshers. Thanks for sharing.

  4. says

    Thanks for this. I always need a reminder to haggle. It’s not my strong suit. Like you, I feel guilty trying to get someone to deal with me when I know they are hardly going to make anything on their sale and things are already cheap. But I am equally, or more cheap and have set a standing $5 limit per item. Somehow that stops me from spending more. I’m a rule keeper. I even keep my own rules. Ha! It has to be knock me over nostalgic to make me budge…

  5. says

    I went into your project gallery and was so delighted with all your wonderful projects. You are so talented! I’m following now. (I’m also a fan of your Yard Sale series.)

  6. says

    I have only just begun to pluck up the courage to haggle (I achieved my first successful haggling at a French Flea Market a couple of weeks ago) and I think your comments about doing it nicely are spot on. Show you are not a push over, be prepared to walk away but don’t be pushy or mean. I employed your tactics and got four items for the starting price of two!
    Nicki Rochead recently posted…Catching Bright Sparks – An Ash Catcher For A BrazierMy Profile

    • Carrie says

      Nicki, first of all, how awesome that you got to shop at a French flea market! That sounds amazing! And it sounds like you did a great job haggling. I always like to walk away knowing that I got a great deal but also knowing the other person can feel good about the sale as well.

  7. Vikki says

    I loved your comments. Over the years those are the same rules I have employed. Today I went with my daughter and saved her over $40 over the course of the day. She won’t haggle, but I will. I realized a long time ago insulting someone is not only rude, it doesn’t work. When people do that at my own yard sales I walk away from them!

    • Carrie says

      Vikki, Awesome job saving $40! It definitely pays to haggle – and really at places like yard sales and flea markets, it is expected! And the old saying definitely applies in this case – you catch more flies with honey than vinegar. Being nice is definitely the way to get a better deal and feel better about yourself at the same time.

  8. says

    Great article! I think one of the best ways to get a good price is to be aware of current market values in your area by checking what things are going for on Craigslist, Facebook yardsale sites, and in thrift stores. That way you will know if someone is asking too much for something. Also, leaving some wiggle room is helpful. Say someone was selling something for $40, I may offer $20, knowing that we can probably settle for $30. If I offered $30 right away the seller may have counter offered $35.

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