I am in awe of a scene I witnessed at Big Lots this morning.
Recession Mama Michele Ashamalla: A sweet-looking older woman was at the checkout with a 4-foot-high gorgeous walnut wood candle holder (just for the record, in a different class from the ramen and off-brand cleanser in my cart). She asked how much it was, and was told that it was from a designer collection and was priced at 75 percent off retail, which was a whopping $300, so it came to $75. The woman hesitated and said that was more than she was willing to spend right now, then stated, "I would be willing to pay $60." The cashier replied, "Let me ask my manager." The manager came over, looked at the item, and told the customer she would knock it down to $65. The bargain was struck in an amazingly civil manner, and everyone was happy. Unbelievable!
I'm pretty sure the Big Lots staff realized the item wasn't a real mover, but still ... it makes me remember a time just out of school when I had my first place with roommates and we needed a living room rug. Some were on sale at Macy's, but they were a little high. The one we liked had a little something on it (nothing that some carpet cleaner wouldn't fix), and when we pointed it out, we got an extra 10 percent off and were still able to use the 10 percent coupon we had brought in.
Bargaining is so common in many cultures, but really, not in ours. It is, I believe, still generally acceptable to do some back-and-forth at swap meets, flea markets, craft fairs, etc. My city also has a large jewelry district downtown -- and you better roll up your sleeves for the hard bargaining that goes on down there. A few bargaining suggestions: always be pleasant; never deride the merchandise; sometimes buying more than one or paying cash will get you a better price; and remember, it will only work if you are willing to walk away.
A former state deputy attorney general and current stay-at-home mom, Recession Mama Michele Ashamalla has three kids and ten years of experience stretching one salary to cover the necessities and more. She's all about saving money whenever you can, so you have it to spend on whatever you want!