LISA: I’m Lisa Birnbach for howdini.com. If you want to negotiate a good deal at a garage sale, do not wear your nice shoes, and do not drive a fancy car to the house. So says Bruce Littlefield, author of Garage Sale America. So don’t look like you have a lot of money.
BRUCE: Absolutely. The, the finer the stitch, the higher the price. That’s what you’re going to pay. If you’re wearing those shoes, I’m charging you a lot of money.
LISA: Wow, sneaky. Okay, so everything counts. Appearance counts.
BRUCE: Appearance does count. But you know what else counts, and at the end of the day, people want to sell something to somebody that they like. So a good send of humor, and a, and a good relationship goes a long when. So when I go to buy something, whether it be a new house, a new car, or at a garage sale, I’m going to form a relationship with you, and I’m going to say, hey, how you doing? And then, I’m not just going to make it about one thing –
BRUCE: If it’s, if it’s a house, it’s not just about the one price, it’s, there’s chandeliers in there that you might want, there’s the fixtures. And at a garage sale, it’s a lot of things on the table, and I’m not going to ask specifically about each price of each thing.
BRUCE: I’m instead going to go, hey, do you mind if I start a little collection over here? I’ve formed a relationship with the person, which you and I now have a great relationship, and you’ve seen that I’m a big buyer because I’m not going to just buy one thing, I’m going to put a pile together.
LISA: And I also feel, as a seller, you like my taste so I’m with you, right?
BRUCE: You got it.
LISA: Yeah. And we’re feeling good, right?
BRUCE: We’re feeling good.
LISA: So I get my pile together, and then I ask you, how much?
BRUCE: For all of it?
LISA: For all of it. Because I’m going to be generous now.
BRUCE: You’re going to be generous because, first of all, I’ve moved a lot off your table, or off your tables.
BRUCE: And you see that I like what you had, exactly what you said. So let’s say you say a hundred dollars. And I want to get it for about half that price, right?
BRUCE: So let’s say I say, oh, I really only wanted to spend fifty dollars. And you’re like, I can’t, mmm… And I wouldn’t insult you and say ten dollars on a hundred, if you’ve named a hundred dollars.
BRUCE: Because that’s suddenly our good relationship has gone south.
LISA: Now wait, we’re through.
BRUCE: Exactly. Our relationship is over. But if I say fifty, we’ve, we’ve, we’re, we’re ,we’re in, we’re in the ground, we’re in the striking zone. So then you, you’ll come back to me with a number perhaps less than a hundred, and then I will might, I might come up to a number a little higher than fifty.
BRUCE: And then we get to sort of the in-between zone, right.
LISA: This is what I think of as a dance, right?
BRUCE: It’s a dance. It is. A beautiful dance. So we’re at that zone where, where we’re wondering who’s going to say okay, I’ll take the deal. But if I’m the buyer, I start putting things back onto your table. I say, I really don’t want to spend that much, so I’m going to put this lamp back.
BRUCE: And then I start putting another thing back.
LISA:But you drive a hard bargain.
BRUCE: And you are wanting me to –
LISA: Wait! Wait, Bruce, darling, I’ll throw in the lamp for eighty dollars.
BRUCE: Exactly. And then we have a good deal. I walk away happy, and you walk away with money in your pocket, and you’ve gotten rid of things you no longer want.
LISA: So that is a successful transaction at a sale.
BRUCE: Absolutely. You don’t want to, first of all you don’t want to let it be the one that got away, and then second of all, it is a successful transaction if I’ve gotten the things that I want for a price that makes me happy.
LISA: Or if I want to buy stuff, but the seller is just not budging with the price, there is no dance. Should I just walk away, or should I start insulting the seller?
BRUCE: Well the best way to get any deal is that if you’re the one willing to walk away. You’ll get the best price. But then you’ll –
LISA: So just, but you may lose it.
LISA: Do you think garage sales bring out the best in people?
BRUCE: I do. You get to meet your neighbors, you get to have a little fun, and you get to find an unearthed treasures.
LISA: So, so it’s, you could end up being friends with somebody because you bought their old stuff.
BRUCE: Well, yeah. You’re giving a good home to something that once meant something to them.
LISA: Okay and the shoes, really, you’re serious about that?
BRUCE: Please don’t wear those shoes, Lisa.
LISA: For howdini.com, I’m Lisa Birnbach.