While at the beach recently, my wife and I stopped at the quintessential beach town book store. It was a cute little place and exactly what you’d expect down to the requisite cat lounging in the vicinity of the kid’s books. Thanks to the damn kids loitering my petting time was limited. Worse, I was homesick for my babies left behind home alone. (With visits from the cat sitter.)
The store had limited selection of new books, mainly best sellers, and as such wasn’t too interesting. Not too surprisingly their books were offered at full cover price. Pretty standard really for homey places trying to compete with the big boys. I like supporting little local shops so I strongly considered picking up a new copy of Sycamore Row by John Grisham in hardback for only $28.95 USD. I hadn’t heard of the book before and Grisham is a no-brainer who always delivers.
Still, three Hamiltons for a single book was a little much and besides, who the hell has time to read while on vacation? I reluctantly put the book back and decided to wait.
Later, my wife decided to check out another local book store, this one a dumpy place offering used books. Lo and behold, what did she find? Yup, a copy of Sycamore Row with a hand-written price sticker of 25 cents.
Hey, that falls into my budget.
Knowing me like she does, my wife dutifully snatched it up. But when she took it to the counter the shopkeeper realized what was going on and balked. It was time for the “that’s the wrong price” game. Little did he know what a fierce contestant he was up against.
I do not like to haggle. Either I find the price acceptable and make the purchase or I quietly move on. I can live without another damn possession. So, for me, there’s no other option.
In Tijuana, Mexico, during my travels, I’ve been witness to haggling in the extreme. Offer $1 on a $10 item, act offended, make the shopkeeper chase you half way down the block, then buy the thing for $2. Yuck. Who enjoys that?
Me? I see that the colorful handmade serape is already a bargain (from my point of view) at only ten bucks so what the hell? Here’s $10 bucks. I got me a new serape for much cheaper than I could ever hope to get back home. I assume this is a win-win. Maybe the shopkeeper thinks I’m a fool and laughs at me behind my back? I doubt it. Either way, I did a nice thing and everyone who knows me knows that’s what I’m all about.
The shopkeeper facing my wife, however, was about to try the reverse haggle. That’s where the merchant tries to talk the customer into paying a higher price. Not normally a way you see it played.
“That book is mismarked,” he lamented. “A book like that, in that condition, is at least two bucks.” He went on to explain it had been acquired at a yard sale and still, in error, had the yard sale sticker.
Me? I would have flipped the guy two bucks and called it a happy win. I got what I wanted and saved $25. Not a bad day’s work.
But not my wife. No way. The game was afoot. We got a bona fide label here and it says twenty five cents. Here’s how this is going to work. I’m going to give you twenty five cents. Then I’m walking out of here with the book. Anything other than that? Then we’ll have … trouble.
I sure am enjoying my new book. What a bargain!