How important is it to you that the seller is willing to negotiate on the price? Occasionally, I sell items at shows, only a couple times a year. I mark my items below market value to move the merchandise and usually sell a substantial amount of my items.  Even if the prices are low, some people refuse to by items if I don't negotiate or am willing to take only a small amount off of the price. When I mark up the items at a higher price to leave wiggle room to negotiate, I sell less items, but usually end up netting the same amount, as some people pay the sticker price without asking for a reduction. It may sound crazy, but I would rather sell more items at the same price, as I don't have much storage space. It seems as though some people really enjoy the negotiation process or the thought they got a good deal because the price was lowered.  Would you rather pay the sticker price or negotiate a higher price down to the same amount?

Original Post

I know what i'm willing to pay for an item when i see it. If it's priced no more than 10% more than what i'm willing to pay i'll buy it without a question unless the seller indicates he wants to negotiate. As far as anything that's priced way over fair market value I won't even begin to bargain with the exception if it's something i really want. Then i preface my conversation with, "i'm going to make you an offer, but please don't be insulted; it's based on fair market value".

When i sell at train shows i price my items at 10% to 20% below fair market value or less to get rid of them.

jackson, CEO, Not-So-Great Eastern RR, aka The Never Done Line

          Division of the Southern Adirondack Railway Cartel



If it is an acceptable price - I'll buy. Very Easy.

If it is marginal, I try to find multiple items from the same vendor and make an offer on the lot. I'd say about 80% of the time, they take my offer. 15%, they get close enough and I take their counter.

If the price is "outrageous", I'll express an interest and ask what is special/unique about their piece to command the asking price. Sometimes that leads to a conversation friendly to negotiations within my price range. If we can't quite get there, I'll may attempt to return towards the end of the meet and simply state "I'll still take it for $x". Sometimes it works, sometimes it doesn't.

bmoran4 posted:

If it is an acceptable price - I'll buy. Very Easy.

If it is marginal, I try to find multiple items from the same vendor and make an offer on the lot. I'd say about 80% of the time, they take my offer. 15%, they get close enough and I take their counter.

If the price is "outrageous", I'll express an interest and ask what is special/unique about their piece to command the asking price. Sometimes that leads to a conversation friendly to negotiations within my price range. If we can't quite get there, I'll may attempt to return towards the end of the meet and simply state "I'll still take it for $x". Sometimes it works, sometimes it doesn't.

Pretty much. Especially the end-of-show offer idea.

I dislike negotiating in general. Now, the offers-back-and-forth a couple of times is fine - if respectful and good-natured - I do it myself - but endless "dickering" over an item is tiresome, undignified and, as practiced by some personality types, offensive.

Those who consider "dickering" a sport, yet actually want to buy item XYZ, need to realize that not everyone likes the dickering process, just as guys like me who don't care for it much need to realize that some people do. Make a friendly offer or two, accept or not, and then go away. A couple of times I have actually started raising a price just to get a guy to leave my table. 

Negotiating in general:

I always think of the seller table cost and how many items he needs to sell to start making a profit.

The I offer a fair price then see what happens or as I always say, "Shoot for Moon but settle if you land in Kansas".


Don't Junk it, Make it Work!


I negotiate by bundling or add trade ins.  Frequently when selling, someone offers a lesser price, I will hold firm to my price but throw in an item or two that I just want gone.   Target, reduce inventory & acquire cash.

When buying I always offer anything off my table and cash for whatever they are selling.  Target,  reduce inventory & retain cash.


Eternity is a long time to have been wrong.

It all depends on what the piece is, and what all I’m buying....certainly if a fella has a 10 dollar item, I’m not asking him to give it away......that’s just ridiculous.......but if I see a few pieces, or high dollar piece, I’ll ask the fella before I even show my hand on what I’m looking at if they have any wiggle room or not....this easily sets the stage, if they say no, but it’s a piece I want, and it’s in my range, I’ll buy it....I find 99% of the time they’ll negotiate, and so do I....but I’ll always let them fire the first volley....let’s them be in charge.....I call it taking their temperature......most of the time the price in my head and the sellers price is only off by a single split....split it down the middle and get the piece....on to the next.....if a piece is hard to find, and you and the seller both know it and you want the man....your on the ropes.........Pat

The Water Level Route.......You Can Sleep

I'm a buy at sticker person.  I hate negotiating, it's a waste of time that could be spent looking at other stuff, IMHO.  If I like the price I see, I buy it.  If I don't, I walk away as I don't want to waste my time or the seller's time.  If I was selling I'd just list everything at the price I'm willing to part with it at, and if they like it they can pay for it.  If someone tries to give me an 'offer' below that I'll just tell them the items are priced and that is what I will sell them for, no less.  And if they still insist on trying to 'negotiate' I'll just ask them to stop wasting my time and to leave.  They can just go get their 'thrill' somewhere else.

If I think a price is too high or unreasonable and I'm interested, I'll discuss with the seller. I'll through in my 2 cents and listen to theirs. If its close, I'll usually purchase.

Very much like Sinclair, I hate to haggle over pricing, it's exhausting and useless for the most part.

I generally have an idea of what an item is worth to me.  I could care less what the price guides say an item is worth; ultimately it’s how much am I willing to spend to own the item.

If the seller has obviously priced his items to sell and I believe the price to be fair; I’ll pay the sellers price.  

If I believe the seller has some wiggle room; I’ll often just ask “what would you be willing to do on this?”  If I find that number to be acceptable, I’ll buy.  If not, I’ll generally say something like “nah; that’s more than I was thinking.”  In most cases; the seller will then ask what I think is fair and the negotiation begins.  

If I believe an item to be egregiously overpriced, I simply move on without expressing or showing any interest.  Odds are I’ll either find it at a lower price at some point or, I really didn’t need it anyhow.


I'm all about the haggle.  I'm the type of person that will haggle even if something is stupid cheap.  Bought a set of 6 new in box Williams passenger cars and a like brand new Lionel Trainmaster engine with sound and so on for 100.  He was asking 125.  I offered 100, they took it. 

That isn't to say that if the seller won't bargain, I'll pass.  I will still buy the item if the price is still very good. 

I just enjoy haggling and getting a discount. 

Someday I'm going to ruin a new car saleperson's day by going into a dealership with enough cash to buy a car outright and just toy with them.  

The few times that I have set up to sell, I set my prices at the lowest price that I would accept.

Later Gator,



Here comes a Yankee with a blackened soul,
Heading to Gatow with a load of coal.
......Anonymous U. S. pilot during the Berlin Airlift

I'm at the stage of the hobby where I have everything I "need".    so nearly anything I see that interests me is not a "must have".     therefore I generally don't get interested unless it is a "good deal". 

That said, I like to make an offer.    sometimes the seller takes it, sometimes not.   I don't bother trying an offer if it is real overpriced, or my interest price is way lower than asking.     When selling, I always have a bottom line price in the back of my mind, but I don't price high on purpose.

The most interesting deal I ever made was the seller making me an offer.     I had walked by what I thought was a PRR caboose painted robins egg blue and lettered wabash listed for $90 (brass).   It was a very nice job, but an awful color for PRR caboose - better on a 54 chevy convertible.    I came back later in the day when things were quiet.    the seller was there and we got to chatting so asked him if it was indeed a PRR ND caboose.     he said yes and smiled sheepishly and made a comment about the color - I can't remember whether he got it that way or what.     we chatted a little more and I started to walk away, and in my mind I thought I would maybe pay 50 for that but not anymore requiring repaint quickly!     I never made an offer because I didn't need it and didn't want to insult him.     Anyway, I got a few steps away and he said - "Would you buy it for $50?"      I burst out laughing since I was thinking that, and I accepted his offer.


Not a haggler and I am not concerned with getting the absolutely lowest price I can on something, if someone has it at a price that makes sense to me, if I want it I'll buy it and not worry if I could get it for 5 bucks cheaper. What gets me upset is when I see things like common post war items at ridiculously high prices, where the seller hopes to catch someone who doesn't know (and probably justifies it with 'well, if they know what the price is, they can always give me an offer'), then they will complain when no one wants to buy their stuff.  I am not begrudging someone a couple of bucks extra in profit, if they price their stuff 10% over their dirt bottom price, I generally won't negotiate if I like what they have, I get something I like and they make a couple of bucks, I just don't like taking advantage where people don't know, not a fan of predatory capitalism (especially when I can be the victim

Obviously the best bet is if you are looking for something, take a look at what prices are like at stores or on fleabay or the like, take a look at pricing guides, and decide what you want to spend on it, and then when there negotiate based on that price. If you like something but don't know what fair market value is, find the model number or look at the description, and step away and look it up, smart phones are kinda nice that way, try to get an idea of what it likely is worth, then work from there. 

I will add that as someone who has done selling (not with train items), it annoyed me when people tried to negotiate at discount just to get a discount, where I had something at what I knew was a reasonable market price and they made either really silly low offers or worse, negotiated literally on 50c on something costing a hundred bucks, that isn't haggling, that is just being annoying. 

The person who dies with the best toys dies a happy person

It sounds like you have a realistic approach to selling at train meets.

As for the folks on the other side of the table, there are all types out there. I sell quite a bit, and I run into some folks that just need to negotiate or they won't buy, and others that know the value of the item, and will jump in with "I'll take it" if the price is good to them whether it's as marked or talked down. Then there are others that play the "would you take__________?" game, and even when I agree, they say, "OK, just wondering". I used to let some get me upset, but now I just figure the whacky ones give me great stories to share.

Interesting topic, ElvisP.

I only buy, never sell, at train shows, and tend to find negotiating at train shows distasteful, but not when negotiate for other things like buying a car. If I really like something at a train show and the offering price is in the ballpark of what I think is fair, I usually buy it without any haggling. One reason for this is I have empathy for sellers at train shows, especially those selling used trains in their personal collections. I try to make a little connection with them by expressing my enthusiasm for the hobby, telling them how much I love the OGR On-Line Forum, etc.

I once attended a collaborative law seminar regarding how a person's cultural background may impact their attitude about negotiating. Without being specific here about how people in different countries and/or ethnic groups feel about negotiating, which may be inappropriate on this Forum, suffice it to say a few things in general about this subject.

First, it is good to be mindful that people from different countries and ethnic groups can have different attitudes about negotiating.

Secondly, there are people in particular countries and ethnic groups in which a person is regarded as an idiot, stupid or foolish if he/she does not haggle about price before buying something.

Thirdly, most Americans tend to be sensitive about negotiating and tend to find haggling distasteful.

Of course, there are exceptions to the above generalities. 


In my little world, I leave this troubled world behind.

I used to dislike negotiating, but now have come to enjoy it.  I always try to keep things respectful, light-hearted, and not get carried away.  One of my favorite comments is "What is your I can't afford not to buy it price?"  Many times I get a reply of "I don't know, what do you think it should be?"  That invites a semi ridiculous price just based on the nature of the question without being offensive.

Bundling works good too, but it's better for me when I am selling as I don't need too much these days.  I offer a one price and a much better multiple price.  It's amazing how many times that will cause people to buy substantially more.  You need to spend some time setting your prices.  Too high and you will scare everybody from even making an offer.  Too low and you have no room to deal.  At our local monthly shows, everybody expects a deal.  I don't know if it's from watching Pawn Stars and American Pickers or what, but if you won't negotiate you are at a major disadvantage in my opinion.


My favorite negotiation of all time was when our dear late friend Loco Louie had a thirty dollar car for sale and some (         ) was trying to get it for ten dollars.  The buyer was saying how much he loved the car then went off begging and pleading for the longest time with sob stories and challenges to the point where Louie threw it on the floor and stomped it dead in pieces and calmly announced "There, you can have it for$10.00". 

Eternity is a long time to have been wrong.

A few years ago I attended a well known Southern California train club's monthly meet in the Orange County area. I was not a member of the club but attended as a member of the general public.

I saw a box car I wanted on a seller's table, of course none of his items were priced. I asked "How much?".  The guy says "30 bucks".  I told him I would take it and I got my wallet out. It was towards the end of the meet and I had exactly 29 dollars on me !

He said " I can't sell it to you for that"... I was going to tell him to hold on to the car that I would go out and check the seat cushions in my car for the extra change, but he literally turned around and started talking to his table buddy. I was dismissed!

Needless to say I never went back...



I dislike negotiating at train meets almost as much as I dislike buying a car.  I'd rather stick needles in my eyes !

I have run into sellers at train meets that haven't marked their items with a price.  I usually move on but sometimes will try to get the sellers attention away from someone he's involved with talking about their life's history.  Then when he continues to discuss the history of the world, with that person, I simply walk on.  

A few times I have walked up to tables where nothing is priced.  The seller sounds like a side show barker, "Make me an offer".  Not directly to any one customer, but to all who are within earshot of his table.  In these cases I am more likely to spit out a number if I see something I like.  

Dan Padova


"In the course of my life I have had to eat my words, and I must confess it was a wholesome diet"..........Winston Churchill


bmoran4 posted:

...If the price is "outrageous", I'll express an interest and ask what is special/unique about their piece to command the asking price. Sometimes that leads to a conversation friendly to negotiations within my price range...

Speaking as someone who is put off by outrageous prices, I really like this approach.  I may try it if I see something I like in this scenario.

I'm always amazed at the number of tableholders who keep dragging the same overpriced stuff back and forth.  But it can be fun to visit their museum.

joe krasko posted:

My rule is I'll always try to negotiate with a seller...BUT it's important NOT to insult the seller with an outrageous low ball figure...  

While I agree that it's important to be respectful, some folks have a highly inflated idea of what constitutes a low-ball figure.

"B..b...b...but I paid twice that when I bought it 20 years ago."  Yep, we all did that. 

I don't mind someone is asking for a reduction as long as they are nice. When I hear, "It sells on ___ for 1/2 that amount", "You won't have to take it home if I give you $x", "It is not worth your price because ____", "There was one selling at York for 1/2 your price", "What is your bottom number? ... I'll give you half that amount", I get annoyed and my bottom line usually goes up. Obviously, it depends upon the tone of voice, but these statements are usually given in a sarcastic manner. Nice people get a better deal.

My simple negotiating tactic...

Step 1  "Is this the best you can do?" If yes got to step 3. If no go to step 2.

Step 2  "What is the best you can do?" Find out his offer and go to step 3.

Step 3 Decide whether I feel it's fair and buy or walk away.


No badgering.  No comments if I think the price is too high.  Just a simple question and a decision.  I will sometimes see if they can do better by bundling by just asking.



Below the Signature...

"Awesome Treksgiving dinner with Captain Kirk"


Fun read...much is relative. I learned negotiating car shopping, and then in another hobby, so was "broken in" when l rediscovered my childhood.  l think l know what it is worth to me, and l will pay that or keep walking, but the problem now is little shows up in (a lot fewer!) shows, including York, that interests me.  Internet still brings the uncommon out of attics and basements, but that all too rarely.  Seems like what l see in current shows is worth more to current owner, so l don't want to deprive him of it.  Set up once in a lot of shows, but not for a considerable while, as value of my inventory has dropped below my investment. Not worth a day sitting there when a quick walk through might pan a nugget.....or not.

??Another one of THOSE!!??  What you want to sell is not what I want to buy!

I enjoy the haggling. As @D500 says, a couple times back-and-forth, no dickering. I go into the transaction knowing what I'm willing to pay. That may be the sticker price, or it may be substantially below, if I think it is overpriced and/or my desire to acquire the item.

When I bring my five year-old, he usually gets $5 to spend. I'm working on teaching him how to haggle. However, there are many generous vendors who let him pick an item from their "junk boxes"—for lack of a better term—under the table for free. It is sweet of them, even if the items have little market value, and it helps to make his day. So if you're one of the vendors who does that for young children, thank you!

All of these responses are good.  I'm somewhere in the midst of them.  A lot depends on the item and its condition....reflecting whether the seller has first-hand knowledge or is simply peddling a pile of

Also, is this something I've been seeking for several years?  Or, was this not on my shopping list, but at THAT price I can't resist!....even if I already have one...or two...or three....  

But my best technique when approaching a challenging purchase opportunity is to have my wife, also in this hobby, do the negotiating.  She's conversant, friendly, knows the market, etc, etc.......and, most importantly, is far better looking than I!   Whether she's successful or not, she and the seller always part with smiles and a friendly word.  And she enjoys 'the dance' far more than do I.

Good thread!


Elvis P, WOW! I know there is a really good story behind that. lol

Anyway, excellent question and I like reading all the responses. I'm thinking of trying to sell some items at a local show ( Have way to much) one of these days.

I'm not a negotiator and  not very good at selling to start with. That's why I think it's such a interesting question.


TCA 13-69595

elvisp posted:

Best response came from a guy who made an offer of $20 for a boxcar, which I declined. He said angrily, "You won't sell it and will end up bringing that car to the next show and selling it to me for $20". 

And that boxcar was probably a steal at $20.

I despise people being cheap.  When I sell items they are always priced a bit below what they are going for on ebay.  Probably why I rarely have a problem selling items.  Those rare times I don't is probably due to there being a limited market and none of those buyers happen to pass by.   There's a fine line between asking politely if a price is your best price and being rude when asking but we all recognize when it's rude.   I probably would have responded to your buyer with "no I won't because I'm having too good a time annoying you". 

Personally, I'll just ask nicely if the price listed is the best price.  If I'm asking it's because I want to buy it and the price listed is attractive to me.  9 out of 10 times if the price listed is the best price I end up buying the item.  


Member of the Brotherhood of the Crappy Basement Layout

Associate Member of the NJ Hi-Railers

Image result for nj hirailers logo


Gondola canisters. I have enough gondolas but need 10 or so canisters. $3-$5 dollars PLUS shipping online, I'd like to get them at a couple bucks each....So there's a gondola with 4 canisters (the box says $10 each 3 for $25)    I ask the guy if he's sell JUST the 4 canisters at 2 bucks each and leave the gondola......

NO! he says loudly! The canisters alone are $5 dollars each!  Well, in my opinion he was right so I dug into the box and found a lighted caboose, the gondola, and something else for the $25.  Averaging about 8 dollars an item. Good deal for each item by itself! 

I find that when I see something that I want for my collection at a train show I should attempt to buy it then.  I have seldom seen the same item that I want at train show after train show.  I either buy it then or it is gone forever.    

I always try to negotiate by asking what is the seller's best price.  Many sellers will automatically take $5 to $10 off a low price item.  I can usually get $25 to $50 off on a high price item like an engine.  If an item is $5 or less I pay the asking price.  

It never hurts to ask a seller about a discount on his or her asking price.  You see it done on the "American Pickers" TV show all the time.  

On the flip side, I always expect buyers to ask for a lower price when I am selling.  I am usually willing to give a buyer a lower price.  I don't make a living selling trains and I usually sell items at a lower price than I paid for them.  That is today's market.

NH Joe

Add Reply

OGR Publishing, Inc., 1310 Eastside Centre Ct, Suite 6, Mountain Home, AR 72653