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The Everything Guide to Haggling


“Without a full application package—pay stubs, bank statements—negotiating is a waste of time, so get your paperwork ready. If landlords see someone who’s organized, it makes it easy for them to say yes. They are looking for low-maintenance people who’ll pay the rent on time. Getting $100 or $200 less from someone who’s going to be a good tenant is totally worth it for them. Offering a year of rent up front can usually get you a discount of some sort, especially from smaller landlords. I’ve also seen tenants offer to do some work on the apartment. I did that myself a few years ago for a place I rented. The drywall needed to be patched up, and the bathroom needed to be regrouted. The landlord gave me the deal over someone else. One of our clients also got $100 off a $3,600-a-month apartment in Park Slope by offering to shovel the walk in front of the building during winter. ” —Jeffrey Schleider, managing director, Miron Properties

“Go to the farmers’ market at the end of the day. Wait for that moment when everyone is packing up and eager to get going, and then politely say, ‘Excuse me, how much is that?’—knowing very well what the price is. Sometimes they’ll go, ‘Here, just take it.’ They’ll be most likely to give away things that go bad the quickest, like squash blossoms, and less popular items, like beet tops—those you can almost always get for free if you just ask.” —Elisabeth Dyssegaard, book editor

A Business Deal
“Don’t rush. Whether it’s selling your start-up to Facebook or peddling your homemade candle to a local boutique, studies find that the most skilled negotiators don’t immediately launch into a back-and-forth, back-and-forth dynamic. Instead of saying ‘This is the price—take it or leave it,’ they tend to come back with phrases like ‘Interesting. Let me think about that.’ Or ‘Tell me more; how’d you come up with that number?’ This comes back to a basic principle of business: Go slow to go fast.”—Seth Freeman, professor of negotiation and conflict management at NYU Stern School of Business and Columbia University

A Gym Membership
“At fitness chains like Crunch and New York Sports Club, you can always ask for an early-in on any upcoming promotions that might not be advertised yet. Beyond that, these big-box places have nowhere near the room for negotiation you’ll find at an independent gym like, say, Body Elite in Carroll Gardens, where they’re trying to compete in any way possible with the constant influx of chains. You can just walk in and say, ‘I don’t want to pay my chain gym’s prices anymore. What can you do for me?’ ”—Jeff Marshall, personal trainer

Easter Bunnies and Christmas Tree Lights
“At drugstores after each season, they want to get rid of their merchandise. Just find the manager, and he or she may discount seasonal items 50 to 75 percent. I’ve gotten deals on battery-operated singing bunnies from Easter, bat-and-ball sets, kites, and sidewalk chalk after Labor Day.” —Louise Connors, health-attendance coordinator

A Watch From a Street Vendor
“I learned from the first time I ever haggled, at age 10 in Columbus Circle, that body language is key. I asked a guy selling a $15 watch if he would take $10: At first, he said no. I walked away really slowly, like I was still thinking about it, and sure enough, he starts shouting, ‘I’ll do $10! I’ll do $10!’ ” —Spencer Morin, video editor and animator

What’s Your Best Opening Line?

“That guy is giving me a better price, but I’d rather buy it from you. Let’s make a deal.” —Rich Lim, marketer.

“It’s my first week in New York, and I have no furniture.” —Lauren Pirnke, grad student.

“Oh, darn, this piece has a tiny crack—would you take x for it?” —Sean Russo, artist.

Reported at the W. 25th St. Flea Market.

Additional reporting by S. Jhoanna Robledo, Jessica Silvester, and Alexis Swerdloff


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