The Art and Etiquette of Convention Haggling

A topic came up on one of the Facebook groups I’m in for an anime convention. Someone had asked if it was ok to haggle vendors. There was a debate on the thread on the ethics of doing it but that is not what this blog post is about. I’m not here to tell you if it’s a good thing or a bad thing. But if you want to do it, this post is here to give you tips so you don’t look like an asshole and also not waste your time.

 

1. DO NOT HAGGLE VENDORS IN ARTIST ALLEY

This is my number one rule and it comes from a business standpoint as well as a more ethical one. I do want to cover both reasons. From an ethical standpoint, it’s just a jerk move.If you know anything about the people at artist alley is that they are just individuals and not actual businesses. All the prints are their own artwork and use their own money they used to mass produce them. The trinkets they sell are sometimes handcrafted. Artist Alley tables are generally expensive for an individual.

In Geoff Pascual’s blog post “A Beginner’s Guide to Artist Alley: What to Bring”, tables at comic and anime conventions ranges from $125-$350. At a high traffic convention like Comic-Con or Otakon, that artist will have to sell 70 $5 pins or prints just to make up for that table. That doesn’t include the cost to make those products. Knowing this, it just doesn’t feel right to haggle these people. Aside from selling, they are also there to promote themselves so they are not there just to make money but hope that people see their artwork and HOPEFULLY buy online if they can’t buy at the convention

From a buyer’s business standpoint, you would just be wasting your time. These artists know their worth and their product’s worth and won’t go lower than their asking price. If you sit there and continuously try to haggle, you’re wasting time that could be spent somewhere else and get a successful haggle.

2. ONLY HAGGLE ON THE LAST DAY

Or if it’s a one day event, haggle during the last hour. You’ll have a higher chance of getting a good deal as exhibitors may want to get that last minute sale. There may be a chance that they didn’t sell as many manga and are willing to lower the price in order to get a sale. Also, there are less attendees out on the show floor. This means that you have a higher buying power and more likely to have a successful haggle. The exhibitor knows that they don’t have a good chance of selling that manga at full price when there is only a fourth of the attendees left at the event. Meanwhile, you are standing right in front of them offering to buy the item at $5 off. Trying to haggle earlier in the event wouldn’t be ideal because the exhibitor knows there are hundreds or even thousands of other attendees willing to pay at full price.

One thing to understand is that you are NOT doing them a favor for buying their product at a lower cost. You’re not relieving them of shipping costs for sending their products back. It’s best not to bring any of that up because it’d just be an asshole move.

3. HAGGLE IN BULK

You’ll have a higher chance of getting a deal if you haggle in bulk. For example, let’s say you are looking to buy Volume 1 and 2 of Rising of the Shield Hero and each volume is $25 each. You can offer to buy volume 3 and 4 for an overall $10 discount. So instead of buying 4 volumes at $100, you’re only paying $90. You’ll save money but it’s also not a big enough discount where the exhibitor is losing money. If you’re confident enough you can always try a higher discount and see if you can meet in the middle with the exhibitor.

4. HAGGLE LOW DEMAND ITEMS

Seriously, don’t try haggling for the newest model of the most popular waifu figurine. Don’t haggle for the limited edition box set for a well known anime. It’s not worth your time nor is it the exhibitor’s. And you’ll look like you don’t know anything about the product. Of course this would require knowledge of what products or series are well known. If you’re someone who doesn’t know what’s a high or low demand product, just take a look at what they have on display and see what they have more of.

5. NO MEANS NO

This is the last thing you must always know is that NO means NO. If the exhibitor says one time that they are not willing to lower the price, then walk away. Don’t keep haggling, don’t get upset, don’t insult the vendor, don’t tell them “Well you just lost a customer.” Just thank the vendor for their time and walk away. No matter what, always show them respect.

 

Remember to only do this if you’re comfortable and confident enough. If you come across a vendor who’s willing to haggle and they can sense some a bit of fear in you, they may take advantage of you and get you to buy more than what you were originally looking to do. Also, don’t feel ashamed to walk away without buying anything if the deal isn’t what you wanted. You don’t have to buy if you don’t want to just as they don’t have to lower their price. Lastly, always know what your limit is and don’t let yourself pass it.


So that’s pretty much it! If you have questions about this, feel free to reach out to me on Twitter. Hope you were able to learn a little something from this post. But that is it for me. I will see you all next time!

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