How to Flea Market for your Wedding, p.2: Bargaining

How to Flea Market for your Wedding, p.2: BargainingHallo friend Vintage Feed Shack, At the article you read this time with the title How to Flea Market for your Wedding, p.2: Bargaining, have prepared this article well for you to read and take the information in it. Article ANTIQUING, Article BROCANTING, Article EUROPEAN MARKETS, Article FLEA MARKETING, Article FLEA MARKETING FOR YOUR WEDDING, Article HOW TO FLEA MARKET FOR YOUR WEDDING, Hopefully the contents of this post we write you can understand. Okay, happy reading.

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How to Flea Market for your Wedding, p.2: Bargaining

Last week, I introduced a new series devoted to sharing my flea marketing experiences and all the tips and tricks I've learned along the way. I'm hoping that this series will help you collect some gorgeous antiques at great prices for your wedding {and your future home as Mr & Mrs!}.

This week, I'm focusing on bargaining. There is no magic formula for getting the piece you want for the price you want. It takes time, patience and practice to find what works best for you. However, over the years, I've found a few {near} no-fail strategies ... so get ready to take some notes! ;)
A brocanter's paradise. :)
TIP NO. 1 | There's a huge unspoken language when it comes to bargaining. Much of it is based on feelings and judgments that you'll never actually hear but you'll definitely pick up on. It's natural to make a quick judgment on someone by observing what they're wearing. While my typical attire is classic prep with pearls and vintage baubles, I'll usually tone it down if I know I'm going to be antiquing. I've found it serves me well to leave the jewels at home and throw on a trusty fleece. I like to be "flash-free" when I'm flea marketing ... my goal is to look like a regular Joe to vendors. The last thing you want them to be thinking of you is that you have loads of money to drop on their wares ... even if you do, the goal is to spend as little as possible {that's the fun of the game!}! You also don't want them to think you're an expert on certain vintage pieces which is why I never wear my cherished Weiss rhinestone pins or vintage furs to a flea market. If they think you're an expert, they might think you know something they don't about the piece you want to buy and then ... hello, mark-up! Bottom line: Go for simple attire over fabulous.*

* I have one addendum for this tip: Disregard while in Paris. It's too hard for me to dress down while I'm in Paris so one time I visited the Porte de Vanves market in my dressy Tahari coat, fur scarf, vintage pins and a red lip. I actually got better deals because I looked nice! A French woman complimented me on how Parisian I looked and threw in a vintage pin with the other items I was buying. Score!
The market in Rennes, France
TIP NO. 2 | Be polite - I don't think I can stress this enough. While it should be a no-brainer in all aspects of life, I've witnessed friends accidentally offend vendors and they are clueless as to why the vendor became upset. Please remember that you don't know where or how this vendor acquired his antiques ... oftentimes, vendors are selling their own personal family collections. The piece you're looking at may be the serving platter his Mom always used for special birthdays or holidays and maybe he's selling it because she just passed away but he's having a hard time parting with it. You don't know the vendor's story and you don't know what meaning his items may hold to him. To be on the safe side, never say anything rude about a piece or the quality or condition of the piece. It can be easy to do when you're in bargaining mode - you may think that if you point out a chip or flaw that it will reduce the price. Well, chances are the vendor is already fully aware of any flaws the piece has and has priced it accordingly. Also, never say that the price the vendor is asking is "too high or overpriced." My friend, you're in subjective land - what may be too high for you is a bargain to someone else. And, again, the vendor may have emotional ties to the items and just isn't ready to part with them yet ... your words could unintentionally hurt him or worse, anger him. So try to be thoughtful with your words. I've found it always helps to keep things positive and cheerful - make eye contact and smile while you're discussing the item with the vendor. Make it a conversation rather than just asking about the price. He'll probably tell you everything he knows about the piece and sometimes those stories can be extremely interesting! One time, I wanted to purchase a few antique glass bottles at a small vide-grenier in France and the vendor ended up telling me the full story of how he went on an archaeological expedition to an old WW1 battlefield and found the bottles on a dig - to know that these bottles most likely once belonged to soldiers in the trenches made the bottles so much more interesting for me! And because he enjoyed our conversation so much, he threw two bottles in for free! So, if you really love a piece, let the vendor know that, smile + ask questions about it.

Market in Lyon, France
TIP NO. 3 | Flirt. I'm a teensy bit embarrassed to admit to this tip but it really goes hand-in-hand with Tip No. 2 and it usually works like a charm. It's mostly about just being sweet and friendly - it never hurts to smile! I can't tell you how many times my friends and I have been told by a European male vendor, "For you, a special price ... but only because you're pretty." I won't lie - it can sometimes be a little cringe-inducing but it's all part of the game so just go with it! Smile and be glad your femininity is working wonders for your bargaining skills - it's usually all in fun and jest anyway. My friends and I once encountered a cute older French man who so obviously enjoyed his job - he laughed and joked with all three of us and then even danced with each of us while singing in French. His wife and children were with him and they were all laughing, as well. I ended up buying some gorgeous antlers from him. Everyone left happy and that's how it should be! I also want to mention that this tactic definitely goes for guys, as well. I once witnessed my friend's husband work his charm on a female vendor like a champ - he got her to come down over 100 Euro on a gorgeous antique French table. And it was his first time antiquing in France - what a natural! ;)

TIP NO. 4 | The actual haggling. If you're completely new to flea marketing, here's how the haggle usually goes down: The vendor will tell you the price that he's asking. Unless he says the price is firm, you're free to make a counteroffer. This can either be a rapid-fire back-and-forth of numbers or a much slower dance. The typical rule of thumb: The nicer the market, the slower the dance. I will usually preface a counteroffer with something like, "It's such a beautiful piece but I don't think I can swing that price - would you take $xx.xx?" I usually go back and forth at least twice with a vendor before agreeing on a price. It's usually pretty safe to offer around 15-25% less than the asking price. And I'm never afraid to walk away if the price isn't what I want to pay. Unless you are head over heels in love with the piece and it happens to be super rare, do not be afraid to say "thank you," put the piece down and walk away. Walking away is a great bargaining tactic and the vendors know it. Sometimes, they will even call after you with a new counteroffer trying to entice you back to make the purchase. Sometimes it works, sometimes it doesn't.

The sun rising over the Lyon, France, flea market. Sometimes, waking up early can pay!
TIP NO. 5 | Tip No. 4 leads me into this tip. If you walk away from a piece that you really like, make a mental note of that vendor's location and before you leave the market, head back to his booth. If the piece is still there, pick it up and take a look again. The vendor will most likely remember you and come over to you, knowing that you're fairly serious about the piece if you decided to come back for another look. The best time to make your "comeback" is when the vendors are packing up their wares and loading their trucks. They are often a bit more desperate to sell at this time as they would most likely rather bring cash home with them rather than the same old wares again and again. This is even more true for the larger items. I once scored a gorgeous Belgian bench at the Ciney, Belgium, market right as the vendors were about to load the bench into their truck. This is also great if you're not a morning person {hi, that's me!} ... you can wake up a bit later and still score some great deals. Conversely, many people will tell you it pays to wake up early and be the first one at a flea market. We did this for our first few flea markets in Europe and while there may be some truth to it, I much prefer combing over the goods right before closing.

If you missed my first flea marketing post you can catch up here. I chatted a bit about how + where I sourced some of the antiques used in my own wedding as well as a few groundwork tips. ... or just click on the label 'flea marketing for your wedding' to access all the posts!

COMING UP | Next week, I'm going to share my favorite tips for shopping at European flea markets!

ps. I'd love to hear your favorite tips and tricks of the flea marketing trade! Do you have a go-to technique or a secret tool I have yet to discover? Share away! :)

All images by moi.

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