don’t forget the discount

I indulged my youngest daughter (just shy of 16) in a little retail therapy today in the rainy delights of Shrewsbury. We found a small boutique shop in one of the covered centres and she and her mother quickly picked out a couple of suitable dresses.

The shopkeeper offered my wife a discount on one of the dresses even before she asked, so he was obviously keen to make a sale. My wife spent some time checking the dresses over to make sure that they were well made for their price range (years running a couture dressmaking business from home gives her a fine eye for this kind of thing). Another mother was feeling under a lot of pressure to buy dresses for her daughter (at least one for a “prom”). She went ahead and bought three dresses without a discount.

Naturally, I wanted more than the shopkeeper offered. He said he had done as much as he could and he knew I was going to buy both anyway. By this time my daughter and wife were studying me expectantly. They know I will walk away – I have done so before (this is key to discount negoitation: know when to walk away and be prepared to walk away). I told the shopkeeper that I would not buy if the price was not right and would walk away. He saw the resignation to fate on my daughter’s face so he then surprised me by asking what I did.

Telling him I some high-flying consultant for a large global services company would probably not have helped my case so I told him I was a buyer for Tesco. (In a round-about-way I have done this in the past and, as I consult in retail, he was unlikely to be able to ask me any questions I couldn’t wriggle out of.) A short chat later, with a little discussion about the state of the market, the credit-crunch, and general sourcing of products… I had the discount I was after and walked out of the shop with one very happy daughter.

As we had achieved a miracle of finding excellent clothing at a superb price in the first store we walked into (we had chosen carefully), we were able to go off an do a few other things. The mistake she had made dawned on my daughter’s face as we were wandering around the Maplin store and even my wife suddenly started studying ad hoc products with considerable intensity.

I pretty much always ask for a discount in any kind of store. Small businesses or large. The latter tend to be harder work as you it takes a while for the staff at, for example, a Currys store, to switch into commercial mode properly and move away from the standard script. At the end of the day, another sale is another sale to a store manager and they will not often turn away business that they would otherwise simply lose.

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