As we get ever closer to Christmas I want to address a bit of Gun Show etiquette (for lack of a better term) on haggling. Now don't get me wrong, I don't mind haggling at all. In fact it can be quite enjoyable, if done right. But for those who go about it the wrong way, I'd really rather you just went away.
So what do I mean by doing it wrong? There's a couple or three things in particular I'm thinking of, so let;s look at each of them by order of what drives me nuttiest.
When looking at something I made myself, such as my rifle slings or my custom grips, I really don't want to hear about how you could make them yourself. Aye, paracord knotting is extremely popular, and fairly easy so I don't doubt for a minute that you or someone you know could make a rifle sling just like the ones I sell; the point here though is that you didn't make the one you have in your hands right now, I did, and it took me a couple of hours to knot that 80 to 110 feet of paracord into something that won't fall apart the first time you use it. Add in the fact that I use only U.S.made materials whenever and wherever possible, and your mentioning that you could make it yourself just makes me want to raise the price I'm charging you. Compliment them and then ask if I would take $x.xx and we'll be off to haggle land, with what will hopefully be a mutually satisfactory conclusion for us both. Tell me I'm charging too much for something anyone can make, and you'll be lucky if I budge on my price at all.
Another thing that drives me absolutely bonkers is someone saying "Are you kidding? I saw this same (insert item here) just last year for $x.xx". Most of the time the price they quote is so ridiculously low that I'm force to conclude one of three things. 1) Either their memory is pretty bad and it was longer ago than last year, 2) The person they bought it from was selling it below cost just to get rid of it, or 3) the item they saw was so hot it should have left scorch marks on the table! Well, there is a fourth possibility. They could have seen a version sold by a company that can afford to buy an entire truck load of one particular knife, unlike myself who only afford to buy mixed shipments of 100 to 200 knives of various types at a time. Companies like that have more bargaining clout with the individual manufactures than I will ever have since I'm forced in most cases to buy from a distributor instead of straight from the manufacture, and thus can easily sell them for less than I can. Plus some items I sell have what is referred to as a MAP (Minimum Advertised Price) policy attached to them (5.11 Tactical and Ka-Bar are just 2 companies famous for this). On those items, if either the manufacturer or my distributor catch me selling those items for less than the price set under the MAP policy, I will lose my right to carry them; and if it's the manufacturer who catches me, then my distributor loses his dealership as well.
The thing that drives me absolutely around the bend though are those few people who for whatever reason seem to think that I should be desperate to sell to them at any price they name. These people are the ones who will come back to your table or booth 3 or 4 times, each time offering you the same absurdly low amount and always act surprise when you don't jump at the offer. Look people, it may be true that I do have to sell a certain amount just to cover the cost of the tables I'm running, but selling you something for less than I paid for it is a really good way to end up in bankruptcy inside of a year! Add in that under most state laws, I have to submit sales tax on anything I sell at the show and there's just no way I can sell something I paid $35.00 for to you for $37.00. I do and I just lost 10 cents even without factoring in the cost of table rental or the cost of hauling my trailer to the show. Add in all the cost involved in selling at a Gun and Knife show, and selling that $35.00 knife for a lousy $37.00 is going to end up costing me more like $6.50 or more depending on how far from home I am. Not a good way to stay in business, not if I'm going to have enough money left at the end of the show to replace the items sold. It's better for me in the long run to just eat the cost of the table than loose that much on each sale. At least if I haven't sold it for a loss, I still have it to sell at the next one. If I sell everything at those kinds of losses, then not only will I loose money at this show, but I won't have anything to sell at the next.
So what methods do work? Basically, be polite. If you come in friendly and treat me with respect then I'll be more than happy to haggle over the price of anything I sell even if it takes all day. Come in acting like you think I'm deliberately over charging you, or that you think I should feel privileged just to have the honor of selling to you and you just might find me pulling what one of my friends calls the "Pawn Stars Old Man" maneuver and raising my price instead of coming down.
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