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How to Haggle Like a Pro

Whether you're in the souks of Marrakesh, a yard sale in Moncton, or the farmers' markets of Montreal, there's an art to negotiating a bargain. Get what you want—for less—with these expert tips on haggling.

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How to haggle - mature couple at antique marketPhoto: Shutterstock

Read the Room

“The art of negotiation is a delicate one, and your language needs to reflect that,” says Toronto etiquette expert Karen Cleveland. “You can’t begin haggling until you know the other party is willing to negotiate.” Begin with, “Is there any flexibility on pricing?” If the answer is yes, offer what you’re willing to pay. Cleveland suggests starting slightly lower than your goal price so you have some wiggle room to cut a deal.

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How to haggle - woman shopping on tabletPhoto: Shutterstock

Look for Motivated Sellers

Haggling is expected on items for sale on websites like Facebook Marketplace and Kijiji, where you’ll often see posts listing a price or “best offer.” Be fair and fast: many people just want to de-clutter, so taking something off their hands within a few hours will be worth a lower price to them. (Don’t miss this expert advice on how to buy and sell secondhand during the pandemic.)

Keep your eye out for these sneaky Facebook Marketplace scams.

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How to haggle - clothes in shop windowPhoto: Shutterstock

Look for Items That Need Some TLC

Don’t pass over a shirt or pair of pants you love because a button’s missing or a hem is unravelling. If asked, even major retailers may offer anywhere from 10 to 40 per cent off damaged items.

Find out how to save more money at the grocery store.

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Young people shopping at farmers' marketPhoto: Shutterstock

Buy in Bulk (or Shop at Closing Time)

Hitting farmers’ markets at day’s end has advantages—vendors often slash prices to sell remaining goods—but you run the risk of not finding what you’re after. Get deals earlier in the day by buying in bulk. Looking for jars of jam or a dozen gluten-free cupcakes? Ask the vendor if they’ll round down or throw in an extra, and the answer will often be yes. (No one at home needs to know about the extra cupcake.)

Next, find out 20 garage sale finds that are always worth buying.