Expert Haggling at the Antiques Store Can Yield Big Rewards
Kelly Diaz at Rhode Island Antiques Mall suggests that customers do their homework. "If the item is very expensive, you should speak frankly to the seller if this is a purchase you're entertaining. Even if the seller takes off $50, it's a savings. If the seller has the item in the store a long while--more than a month--ask for the seller's best price. If you know the market for similar items, it's easier to speak intelligently with the seller. A buyer last week demonstrated good haggling skills when she asked about a boxed parure of Victorian jewelry. She had a loupe in her pocket, checked the hallmarks, told me the item wasn't solid gold. We did a test on the spot and she was right. She purchased the item and got a 50% discount!"
What if you see a truly unique item and have no idea what it costs? Diaz recommends "If you can afford it and really love it, go ahead. Another customer bought what we thought was an unattractive 1940s floral spray pin, with diamonds and small rubies. We sold the piece for $500. When she came back and asked 'Did you know those rubies in the pin are natural Burmese? My gemologist thinks I'm a genius!' we are happy, too. We bought the pin for less than $100."
If you do purchase an antique--hopefully obtaining a lower price through expert haggling--make sure to ask first if your seller will accept a return. If you are unsure of authenticity, for example, make sure the seller says in writing that you may return the piece. For very expensive items, consider the arrangement of escrow.
To find antiques dealers in your area, go to AOL Yellow Pages.