In high school, my Spanish teacher taught us about bargaining. She taught us that though we don't do it here, in other cultures, people regularly haggle for goods at the market. Years later, as a sales associate at a small retail store, I learned otherwise. There is a time and place for bargaining here in the U.S.A.
Not all retail stores permit bargaining. The big chains, in particular, tend towards micromanagement, with set-in-stone policies and standardized prices. However, when it comes to bargaining, it never hurts to try. Your chances of success, though, will increase at small, locally-owned businesses. Often the owner works right in the store, and if not, the sales staff may have more flexibility than those working for large companies. Furthermore, each individual sale means more at small businesses, which lack the safety nets of the bigwigs.
What you bargain for is as important as where you bargain. Retailers will be more open to cutting costs on certain items:
No matter what you haggle over, or where you do it, attitude counts. A polite, but assertive demeanor achieves more than acting brash and aggressive. Salespeople want to work with, not against, customers, and the easier you make it for them to do so, the better your chances of saving big bucks. You might even form a long-term relationship where everyone profits.For those who lack an aggressive, or even an assertive, bone in their bodies, and find the prospect of asking merchants for special discounts horrifying, keep in mind the cardinal rule of bargaining: it never hurts to ask. Most retailers have seen their share of customers wanting deals; it's a part of their job, and the worst they can do say is no. Over time, bargaining gets easier. Relax, have fun, and watch the savings add up!
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