Negotiating and Home Furnishings in the New York Times

There was a series of articles in the New York Times today that for me, as a small vintage store owner dealing heavily in furniture, I found compelling, and I would highly recommend to anyone looking to invest in furnishings, to learn about how and where and with whom to negotiate prices, and to take advantage of retailer's price points during the recession.

The first, called "How Low Will They Go?" by Steven Kurutz, chronicled his foray into asking for discounts on high end furnishings at a number of locations, from ABC Carpet and Home, to Design Within Reach, to Soho store Cite, finding with varying success, that yes, negotiating for a price on high is occasionally possible--although usually more successful at smaller boutiques.

The second, "Adventures in Haggling: The Retailers' View" by Marianne Rohrlich, interviews many store owners and managers about their policies on price negotiations--with some tactful tips like avoid negotiating on smaller priced items, but for big ticket pieces, wiggle room is usually available, or if a customer is purchasing numerous items a discount may be in order. Retailers like the worship worthy Moss are even offering significant discounts and web specials as never before.

The third, also by Marianne Rohrlich called "A Lesson in Haggling", I'd like to share here and pray that an army of New York Times lawyers don't come to drag me away in handcuffs:

ASK ABOUT THE BASICS Is there any room in the price? Is there a discount for a floor model?

IDENTIFY THE DEAL MAKER Salesclerks are sometimes allowed to negotiate, but often only the manager or owner can. Save the real haggling for the one with the power to make a deal.

START WITH OPEN-ENDED LANGUAGE Though stores want commitment, do your best to stay noncommittal.

DON’T FIXATE (OR DON’T LET ON IF YOU DO) If you’re clearly determined to have a particular item, you won’t have much leverage.

THINK BIG Deep discounts are much likelier on expensive items and multiple-item purchases.

DON’T LOWBALL Offering $500 for a $3,000 item will insult the store. Base your desired price on those of comparable, but less expensive items elsewhere.

ASK ABOUT SALES Is there one coming up? If so, will the store hold an item until then or sell it to you now for the sale price?

THINK BEYOND DOLLARS Focus negotiations not just on price, but on other important issues like warranty and delivery terms.

OFFER TO CLOSE THE DEAL Can you get a break if you buy the piece now and take it with you?

BE PREPARED TO WALK AWAY Leave your number, however, in case the store has a change of heart.

I think these are all great tips, and ones that I, as a retailer--and a buyer when I'm shopping for the store, am acutely aware of.

That being said, I'm always open to discussing prices at Deluxa, even on smaller items, as ultimately my ideal goal for the store is to unite cool stuff with cool people and hopefully eek a modest living. So go ahead and ask--its okay!

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