The Smell of Commerce in the Morning


The Art of the Steal

Expert bartering advice for the novice negotiator.

“Distract the seller. Ask about A, B, C, and D even if you’re interested in only A. If they’ve invested time with you, it helps you to get a better price.” —Dan Burnstein, owner of Negotiator Pro, Boston

“Don’t offer below 50 percent of the asking price. That could offend the seller. However, you can almost always get 10 percent off the list price, and often 20 percent.” —Francesca Rowe, owner of Autrefois Antiques, Brookline

“This is a trick I use at the fish market to reinforce that we’re all on the same team. I ask, ‘What’s the best offer you can make me?’ Or reassure them, ‘You know, I’m like you, just trying to make a living.’” —Jim Ward Jr., president of J. W. Seafood Export, Lynn

“Don’t be negative, because you do want to buy the item. Be clear that it’s in his interest to sell to you, because you might come back to buy from him in the future.” —Gerard Riveron, executive director of Dorfman Jewelers