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Peterborough - Festival of Antiques

Bargaining for the Best Price at Antique Fairs

If you know what you're doing, you can often bargain for a price that's satisfactory for both you and the seller

People who buy antiques often have an attachment to a certain time period. They love books from a certain author, furniture from a favourite designer or art from a certain time period. Antiques tell a story from history that can make us feel nostalgic for that time, even if we never lived all those years ago. When antique lovers go to antique fairs, they’ll often try to bargain with the stall holders for a fantastic price. If you know what you’re doing, you can often bargain for a price that’s satisfactory for both you and the seller.


The Art of Bargaining at Antique Fairs


Off-Season Buying

If you’re in a high-tourist zone in the middle of the peak tourist season, you’ll probably have to pay full price for the item that you want. The seller has plenty of people in the stall, and might not be willing to bargain with you over the price. They’d rather wait for other shoppers to potentially pay full price. If you’re shopping during the off-season when there aren’t as many tourists or shoppers, the stall holder will be more willing to have a sale even if it’s less than the asking price.


Talk to the Owner

If the antique exhibitor isn’t the owner, the person might not be authorised to bargain with you. Ask when the owner will be there and plan to stop by at that time. If you’re not able to come back, consider getting the contact information and giving the owner a call later. If the item hasn’t sold, the owner will be willing to consider bargaining with you over the price of the item. Don’t be afraid to walk away and contact the owner later if you want to pay a lower price.


Don’t be Too Enthusiastic

If the antique exhibitor can see your excitement, they know you will be willing to pay the ticket price. There’s no incentive to bargain with you. You’ve given away all your bargaining power. Instead, hesitate after they’ve given you the price. Some people will be quick to fill the awkward silence with a better price. Don’t be afraid to point out problems with the piece, but don’t be too negative or offensive. The owner won’t bargain with you if they feel insulted.


Positive Language

There’s no reason the bargaining process can’t be fun for both parties. In some worlds, bargaining is the meat of the transaction. Always smile and be positive with the seller. Dress in a way that will get you respect without dressing too expensively. If you find a flaw with the item, do not act rude or address the seller in a condescending manner. The seller won’t want to bargain with you at all. It helps if you can build a rapport with the seller. In fact, you might develop a long-term relationship with the seller that will be beneficial to you both.


Ask About Sales

The exhibitor might be having a sale next week. In some cases, you might not want to wait for the next week to pay less for the item. It depends on the rarity of the item and the price you’re willing to pay. You often won’t know about a sale unless you ask. Don’t be afraid to come back later for the best sales and deals with the stall holder. Find out when they expect new shipments too.


Best Prices

After discussing and bargaining with the exhibitor, don’t be afraid to ask about the best price they can give you. It helps to rehearse bargaining with other stall holders too. If you want to pay full price for an item all the time, you don’t have to bargain at all. It’s a skill that must be developed over time and practise. Don’t be afraid to make someone an offer even if the price is clearly marked. Many stall holders expect buyers to bargain for the best price. Have a price in mind when you start negotiating so you don’t pay too much.


Deals on Other Items

If you cannot get a satisfactory deal on the antique you want, ask if the stall holder is willing to throw in another item too. Often, the stall holder might be willing to add incentives if you’re going to buy an item. You can pick a few items and ask if the owner would be willing to give you them for a lower price. It can’t hurt to ask as long as you’re respectful and smile as you make your offer. Don’t offend the owner, or upset them with an extremely low offer.


In the end, don’t be afraid to walk away if you aren’t receiving the best deal you want. If you do walk away, though, it’s harder to come back and renegotiate the price. The owner will know that you really want the item, and they won’t be willing to lower their price.

Peterborough Festival of Antiques is held twice a year in Easter and September so a great way to begin the years antique hunting and end your summer at what has become the UK’s largest antique fairs, held over two days at The East of England Showground in Peterborough.