If you ever went to Tijuana, Mexico before it became overrun with guns and gangs, you know that it was a great place to practice your negotiating skills while picking up huge bottles of vanilla extract or silver jewelry at garage sale pricing.
Walking down the streets past all of the shops that were crammed together like nobody’s business, you quickly noticed that though you might find the perfect Mexican wool blanket in one stall, another one of equally beautiful design could probably be found two doors down, making “Let’s Make a Deal”-style negotiating a normal occurrence. The shop owners would beg you to come closer: “Hey Lady! Such a deal I have for you!” Once in, they would hope that you would pay whatever price they told you, but were mostly willing to negotiate if you started the process. Going too low would get a response similar to “Hey, be fair, be fair…” After all, these people were trying to make a living just as much as you might have been trying to bring home a cheap handmade (and probably tacky) vase for your neighbor who was watering your plants while you were gone.
My kids and I have discovered–right here in the midwest–that you can still sometimes negotiate when shopping. At the mall, there are cell phone accessory kiosks. We noticed a couple of years ago that nothing there has a price tag on it. (Go look for yourself: you’ll see!) As someone who has worked in sales before, this practice always makes me especially suspicious, whether I’m shopping for a household item or an automobile. A shop having the power to name a different price for any customer based on any criteria they desire at the time is a dangerous thing. I should probably add a disclaimer here that not ALL places who have tagless items for sale are out to see how high of a price they can get from a random customer. (Note that disclaimer, please)
Anyway, we have negotiated cell phone accessories several times, but I’ll just tell you about yesterday so you can get the flavor. The boys and I went to one of the larger malls in the Chicago suburbs; I was meeting Melissa for lunch and thought the boys would enjoy walking around on their own. The younger boy needed a new protective cover for his cell phone. We planned to meet up later. When we did meet up, the boys were really excited about their deal. The younger boy whipped out his cell phone, showing off his new cover, and as usual, they fought over who would tell me the story. Between the two of them, it came out that the younger boy picked out the cover that he wanted, and naturally had to ask how much it was. The kiosk guy said, “$25.”
(Note: Much like the Cosby Show episode during which Cliff and Theo went to buy a car and Cliff was adamant about not dressing up or allowing the salesman to find out he was a doctor because he would have preconceived notions, these shop people probably try to pick out certain folks for their higher prices, like TEENS who may not think anything about paying it.)
The younger boy pulled a Hamilton out and said, “Will you take $10?”
The guy looked at him and said, “How about $12?”
My boy said, “$10 is what I have here.”
The guy looked at the older boy and said, “Do you have $2 he can borrow?”
The older boy begrudgingly reached into his pocket, pulled out the approximately $30 he had (I had just given him his pay from cleaning the salon on Sunday) and sighed. “Yeah, I guess so…”
They handed over the $12 and walked away pretty happy.
I would say that although it is pretty well known that furniture is one of the categories of stuff that is famous for being marked up in a big way, definitely up there on the list are cell phone accessories.
And that, folks, is your negotiation lesson for today.