The fine art of haggling – They can only say no!

Have you ever haggled? I live in Brighton and we’re used to it, with the city’s countless independent shops, boot fairs, vintage outlets, boot fairs and junk emporia. And bargaining can cut the cost of buying second hand (and occasionally new) stuff by a handy amount.

Being British, it doesn’t always come naturally. We’re often a bit too reticent about putting ourselves forward to really go for it. But once you get the hang of haggling, it’s great fun.

Sometimes you’re forced to negotiate, because stallholders don’t price their stuff.  So how do you do it? What’s the best way to go about haggling?


Here are some simple tips:

  • if you’re too farty, just ask for their ‘best price’ instead of bargaining
  • be polite and charming and smiley, then nobody can take offence
  • if you go first, suggest a price you’re willing to increase if necessary
  • if they go first, remember they’ll probably quote a price they’re willing to climb down from
  • keep it neat – they suggest a price, you give a counter-offer and they give a final offer. Or the other way round. From what I can tell about UK haggling etiquette, a three-point argument is quite enough!

Can you haggle in the shops as well as boot sales, vintage and antique fairs? We do down here, in the North Laine, Hove and Kemptown where the independent shops are. I’ve lived here long enough to know a lot of the shop owners from years ago. Sometimes they offer me a good price, other times I politely ask.

If you think about it, you can make an offer on Ebay these days so bargaining is becoming more mainstream… so why not give it a go? They can only say no!

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