If you’re an avid knife collector, there’s a good chance you’ll be buying some of your blades at knife shows or antique shops.  In both of these situations, prices are usually negotiable. If you want to get the best deals, it’s important to have a basic understanding of the fundamentals of negotiating.  Here are a few tips.

antique pocket knivesAsk a ton of questions

If you’re interested in a knife, you’ll likely have all sorts of questions, like:  What’s the knife made of? How old is it? What kind of handle does it have?  What’s the best way to sharpen it? Etc.  Use these inquiries to not only find out information about the knife, but also loosen the seller up.  People are generally more receptive to lowering prices for a buyer they feel they have a repoire with.

Don’t show too much excitement

Even if you’ve just stumbled onto an antique Bowie knife that you’ve been coveting for years, it’s important not to start drooling in front of the seller.  If you make it obvious how enthused you are about a knife, it’s more difficult to bargain hard for a good price.  Keep yourself in check and play it cool.  If the seller thinks that knocking a few bucks off the price will turn you into a buyer, he’s much more likely to do so.

Don’t be unfriendly

One of the biggest misconceptions about the art of bargaining is that you have to be rude or confrontational to excel at it. If you approach a negotiation with this attitude, you’ll likely rub the owner the wrong way.  Instead, be as amicable as possible.  Make small talk, smile and don’t grow angry if you don’t get your way.  When you’re drawing a line in the sand, do it with a smile.

Use logic to your advantage

If you’re asking for a significant decrease of the asking price, it helps to explain to the seller why.  If you think the knife has some cosmetic issues that lower its value, communicate that to the seller.  If you’ve seen other knives of similar quality being sold at lower prices, share this information as well.  By doing so, there’s a chance you’ll be able to convince the seller to give you the knife at the lower price.  If you’re being truthful with them about your perceived value of the knife, you may be doing them a favor as well.

Don’t be afraid to walk away

One of the strongest tools you have as a buyer is that you can always look elsewhere.  If you’re not getting the price you want and the seller is showing little bending room, simply walk away.  Ninety percent of the time, the seller will still give you that price if you return later.  Additionally, the threat of a potential sale leaving will often be enough motivation for the seller to drop the price of the knife.

Set a price and stick to it

This last nugget of advice is often the most important.  Any time you’re negotiating the price of a knife, you should always have settled on a maximum price that you will pay.  If you don’t, you may pay too much in the spur of the moment and end up with a case of buyer’s remorse.


Daniel Lawton

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