Negotiating with Dealers at a Show

I've been visiting local shows for three months now, and I'm still learning, so I'm still asking for advice. ..

When you find coins that interest you, how do you deal with pricing? Do you offer a price? Do you ask what he can do? How often do you just pay without haggling because you find the price reasonable? Is there some dollar amount or number of pieces at which you assume you should get a discount? What if the dealer is displaying coins with no asking price? ...Basically, how do you approach the purchase?


  • opportunityopportunity Posts: 241 ✭✭✭

    I have had far more success by confidently telling dealers what I will pay for a coin instead of being subservient and asking for their "best price"...but always know what you're talking about, and be fair and reasonable.

  • U1chicagoU1chicago Posts: 1,104 ✭✭✭✭

    It is indeed dependent on the situation. In general,
    -if the price is way too high, I usually pass
    -if it’s close (within 10-25%), I try to bargain
    -if it’s priced fairly, I usually just buy it (occasionally I’ll try to get a bit more off, but it depends on the situation)

    If there is no asking price, then I ask for a price. Even if there is a price on a sticker I’ll still double check to make sure that is really the number and not some code.

  • BroadstruckBroadstruck Posts: 27,916 ✭✭✭✭✭

    It all depends on the coin as sometimes the price is fair and there's no need to negotiate.

    To Err Is Human.... To Collect Err's Is Just Too Much Darn Tootin Fun!
  • BaleyBaley Posts: 20,394 ✭✭✭✭✭

    Depends on how many alternative coins at the show or on the internet. If easy to find, it better be a very good deal.

    If it's the first or best one you've seen of the rare target and you want it bad, pay what it costs.

    Liberty: Parent of Science & Industry

  • ColonialcoinColonialcoin Posts: 368 ✭✭✭

    Depends on the dealer to me. I will never negotiate with one prominent dealer. More often than not, the coin that I am interested in is a generational item. No need to fool around to save a few dollars. Other dealers that I buy from usually take something off for me even if I don’t ask. Once I get a price from someone, it’s either a yes or a no thank you. I know of people that constantly play the price it better game. Sooner or later, the dealer will get ticked off and he/she will always remember you and will either price things higher to you or tell you that they have nothing for you. I.E., you are now the loser.

  • ProofmorganProofmorgan Posts: 377 ✭✭✭

    I’ve learned the hard way as a young collector thinking numismatics was like “Pawn Stars”. Dealers, especially ones that have good material and have good reputations do not like to over they typically price very accurately.

    So ultimately this is what I do:

    1.) Ask best price.
    2.) If price is too far off from what I want to pay I thank them and walk away.
    3.) If price is not too far from my price, I’ll ask if they can do “$X”. Their response depends on if a sale happens or not.
    4.) Nogotiating any further will typically turn a dealer off and they will not want to deal with you any further.

    Perfect transactions with: TWQG, Metalsman, LukeMarshall, Oilstates2003, USMarine6, savoyspecial, piecesofme, natetrook
  • RYKRYK Posts: 35,182 ✭✭✭✭
    edited December 8, 2018 2:09PM

    Depends on the circumstances. It depends a lot on the value of the coin, whether there is a price sticker or not, how close the coin is priced compared to true market value, how uncommon the coin, how motivated the dealer is to move product, how much the dealer has invested in the coin, whether the dealer had a hot dog or sushi for lunch, and many other factors, some of which are unknowable to you.

    You might practice by purchasing some inexpensive coins.

    Common opening lines to make a show purchase include:

    “What is your best price on the ... ?”
    “Can you do $xx for the ...?”
    “May I look closer at the ... ?”
    “Is that French’s or Heinz yellow on your Hawaiian shirt?”

    "An early-morning walk is a blessing for the whole day."--Henry David Thoreau
  • mr1874mr1874 Posts: 3,997 ✭✭✭

    Whatever you do, don't grade dealer's coins, raw or slabbed, no matter. Just pizzes him off and never works to get a better price on a nice but over-graded coin.

  • RayboRaybo Posts: 4,203 ✭✭✭✭

    If the dealer is in a "prime" location at a major show you have to walk on egg shells, just try to engage in frivolous conversation about coins and than go for the throat because these are the "know it alls" more often than not.
    If a dealer is in the "low rent" area, engage in frivolous conversation and enjoy the ride.

  • RayboRaybo Posts: 4,203 ✭✭✭✭

    @mr1874 said:
    Whatever you do, don't grade dealer's coins, raw or slabbed, no matter. Just pizzes him off and never works to get a better price on a nice but over-graded coin.

    But they ALWAYS grade my graded coins if I have one to offer them.

  • bobsrbobsr Posts: 227 ✭✭✭

    1st, going to a show without a plan and an idea of prices is a sure bet that someone is going to spend more for less and will buy based on what strikes your fancy. If you are a casual collector, that's not a bad way to approach the floor.
    2nd, If a dealer hasn't priced his product it's for one of two reasons. A. He wants to bend his sales technique to who is on the floor and what product is available meaning he wants to maximize his profits or B. He was too lazy to take the time and he's just going to wing it and see what happens.
    With me, Negotiating is a way of life. I have worked diligently for every penny I have. I'm not going to turn it loose based on a complete strangers thoughts of what I should pay. He/she wants the most profit he/she can get and I want him/her to extract as little from me as he/she can. Its MY Money and they are going to have to work to get it out of my pocket. Truly, I'm sure I have irritated more than one dealer in my life. The other side of the coin is, to me, I have purchased a good number of coins that I am completely satisfied with both in the coin and what I paid for it. It's HIS/HER JOB to make a profit, It's MY JOB to make sure I minimize that from me. So, let the dance begin.
    Bob Sr CEO Fieldtechs

  • gtstanggtstang Posts: 1,047 ✭✭✭✭

    You can see so many coins at shows and it's not easy to know how many different series and the grades are valued.
    One scenario about really liking a coin but you have no idea if the price asked is on this side of the ozone or not is to tell the dealer you need to think about it a little. Find a location away from the dealer table and check auctions ended for similar coins and make your decision.

  • WalkerfanWalkerfan Posts: 4,477 ✭✭✭✭✭
    edited December 8, 2018 5:50PM

    Know what the stuff is worth by researching auction archives and price guides. If its quality, then don’t be afraid to overpay a little bit. Most dealers start high, so try to find a middle ground—-a place to leave them some meat on the bone and where you’re happy, too.

    Walking Liberty Sets

    "Looking back, of course, it was irresponsible, mad, forlorn and idiotic but, if you don't take chances, then you'll never have a winning hand and I have no regrets."--Bernard Cornwell.
  • BillDugan1959BillDugan1959 Posts: 2,110 ✭✭✭✭✭

    Ask if it's their best price, politely say yes or no, and don't wear out your welcome.

    These coins are massed produced objects and you will almost always see the thingie again.

    Almost nothing is unique.

  • I think the best approach and the one most likely to lead to a deal is to say "What would be your best price on this one"?

  • Asking for a best price is a good approach. Be forewarned though- if you ask for a best price and decide to try to negotiate a lower one from there, be prepared for a less than productive outcome.

  • 2ndCharter2ndCharter Posts: 1,204 ✭✭✭

    1.) Ask best price.
    2.) If price is too far off from what I want to pay I thank them and walk away.
    3.) If price is not too far from my price, I’ll ask if they can do “$X”. Their response depends on if a sale happens or not.
    4.) Nogotiating any further will typically turn a dealer off and they will not want to deal with you any further.

    Good advice - that's basically what I do at all shows and it has worked for me over the years.

  • Walkerguy21DWalkerguy21D Posts: 7,603 ✭✭✭✭✭

    Once quoted a best price, I don’t counter, I pass or play. As others have indicated, dealers don’t like chiselers.
    However, if I pass, and the dealer then asks what I want to pay, I assume he either still has room, or is really motivated to move the coin.
    Once you start doing business and develop a rapport with the dealers you are seeing at your shows, you’ll get more comfortable with the whole process. You will likely find yourself doing business with the same handful of guys over and over again.

    Successful BST transactions with 136 members. Recent: relaxn, Eagle eye, soldi, silverman68, ElKevvo, sawyerjosh, Schmitz7, talkingwalnut2, konsole, sharkman987, sniocsu, comma, jesbroken, David1234, biosolar, Sullykerry, Moldnut, erwindoc, MichaelDixon, BAJJERFAN, Valenti151, GotTheBug, okiedude, jhdfla, LRCTom, ajaan, Raybo
  • skier07skier07 Posts: 913 ✭✭✭✭
    edited December 9, 2018 12:27AM

    It’s very easy with a smartphone to figure out what the fair market value is for most coins. If a dealer has a ridiculous asking price I thank him and walk away. If the price is reasonable depending what the coin is I might ask what his best price is. If you’re buying something relatively common like a Morgan I’d be more inclined to negotiate. If you’re buying something like an early gold coin I’d be less aggressive.

  • amwldcoinamwldcoin Posts: 4,772 ✭✭✭✭✭
    edited December 8, 2018 6:24PM

    I have a good story that is relevant to this conversation!

    I had a guy that bought from me...only if I would always negotiate down. It got to the point I would ask more than I wanted so I could sell him a coin. One show I had a great coin that was a bargain! I told him the price...and as usual offered 10-20% less than my asking price. I tossed the coin across the aisle to a dealer I knew and asked if he would buy it for my asking price. Yeap....Sold....Gone! That changed that guys attitude and we did quite a bit of business after.

    I am always open to offers...either it works or it does not. Bottom line is not every thing can be bought for a RIP!

  • TomBTomB Posts: 15,198 ✭✭✭✭✭

    In my opinion a "best price" should be a "best price". Therefore, on both sides of the transaction I am a pass-or-play buyer or seller at "best price".

    Thomas Bush Numismatics & Numismatic Photography

    In honor of the memory of Cpl. Michael E. Thompson

  • BochimanBochiman Posts: 24,441 ✭✭✭✭✭

    I like Laura's way of thinking on it.
    I have always been like others have mentioned...."ask the best price and take it or walk" type of thing, but, thinking about it the way Laura said, I think that is better.

    For instance, dealer has it marked at $2000. Ask the best price, get told $1500. You heard the $2000 but were thinking $1300. Tell the dealer "thanks. I understand. I was thinking more in the $1300 range" and the dealer may have bought it "right", say, at $1000....or, they may have had it for a long while and they may be ok with the $1300.

    I've been told I tolerate fools poorly...that may explain things if I have a problem with you. Current ebay items - Nothing at the moment

  • air4mdcair4mdc Posts: 272 ✭✭✭

    If the coins aren’t priced it’s for a reason. The dealer wants to size up his customer.
    I find no other reason except for the dealer to use this tactic for his financial gain.
    Always negotiate or “haggle” for what you believe is the best price your willing to pay.
    Learn to walk away as well.
    Use price guides ( Grey Sheet, PCGS and NGC) , EBay and auction houses as your price guides.

  • BarndogBarndog Posts: 19,946 ✭✭✭✭✭

    @MorganMan94 said:
    I always ask for their best price and then tell them yes or no.

    MrHalfDime provided me with this advice many years ago and I’ve stuck with it since

  • BlindedByEgoBlindedByEgo Posts: 10,532 ✭✭✭✭✭

    I like asking for best price and either pulling the trigger because it's fair, or saying "no, thank you". IF (and only if) the sellers asks me to continue (like "what were you thinking?"), I will give them my target price - then the ball is back in their court.
    When I buy a car, I'm a grinder. With coins, not so much.

  • illini420illini420 Posts: 10,927 ✭✭✭✭✭

    At shows, I do not have prices marked on my slabs... but many of my coins are on my website and/or eBay so the prices are out there if people really look.

    So when asked about prices at shows, I'll usually tell the customer what I have it listed for on my website and
    then depending on the coin and how much room I have, I'll then usually tell them a slightly lower price I'd be willing to take at the show.

    When I'm asked for my "best price," I'll tell them the best price I'd be willing to sell at that moment, but then that's it. If I'm then countered, I politely remind them they asked for my best price and there really isn't any budging from that point. As others have said, it's sort of a take it or leave it when you ask for the best price.

    If you really want a coin and aren't willing to pay the "best price" that you were quoted, you may still be able to work a deal if you change up the deal a bit though... For example, if you add another coin or coins you're interested in buying to the mix and then offer a price you can stomach for the group. You could also offer coins you brought to the show as trade towards the coin you want as another way to try to make the deal work.

    That said, if you're quoted a price you think is really fair or even a bargain, you should jump on it and don't give the dealer too much time to think about going the other direction with the price! This is especially true if you're cherrypicking a variety. Close the deal ASAP and be happy!

    Good luck and have fun!


  • PerryHallPerryHall Posts: 35,737 ✭✭✭✭✭

    When you ask a dealer for his "best price" and he quotes you a number, how often is he really giving you his truly best price? I'm guessing not very often.

  • rmorganrmorgan Posts: 69 ✭✭✭

    Thanks. This is all helpful.

    I do come to a show knowing what I'll be focusing on and with a printed list of the coins that I still need, with each row listing the pricing per grade (taken from coinstudy). When I see a dealer with high prices, no pricing, or only grades I don't want to consider, I have been moving on. ...Of course, my question here is how to handle the price when I find what I like. I tend to be a buy-it-or-walk-away guy. I feel a bit out of my comfort zone if a seller expects his pricing to be game. I'm still learning the culture of shows and buying coins there. I value the experience of those here, and I'm finding value in all these responses. Thanks.

  • BillDugan1959BillDugan1959 Posts: 2,110 ✭✭✭✭✭

    @PerryHall said:
    When you ask a dealer for his "best price" and he quotes you a number, how often is he really giving you his truly best price? I'm guessing not very often.

    As far as the dealer is concerned, his or her "best price" is much higher, NOT lower.

    But they know what you are actually asking, and most will quote something lower.

  • CatbertCatbert Posts: 2,319 ✭✭✭✭✭


    I suggest you include CoinFacts and ebay completed listings for guidance. And remember, a coin with superb eye appeal will demand a price beyond market pricing (which is generally the average).

    "Got a flaming heart, can't get my fill"
  • rickoricko Posts: 62,227 ✭✭✭✭✭

    For those of us who have taken training in negotiating, it can be interesting. That being said, there are dealers that do not negotiate. There was one particular dealer at larger shows in the PNW that had rock hard prices, and they were generally much higher than market. Never understood why he was in business... Never saw anyone buying his coins. On the other hand, it does not hurt to ask for a better price. If you know your coins, and the market, you can usually see if there is room to negotiate. Also, it never hurts to ask...The response dictates my further involvement. Cheers, RickO

  • ColonialcoinColonialcoin Posts: 368 ✭✭✭

    One time I asked a dealer what his price was on a particular item. It wasn’t anything that I had to have but was interesting as a conversation piece. He told me the price was $150. It was extremely overpriced(I felt that it was a $30-40 item on a good day). I told him no thanks. He started to go into a panic mode as to why I didn’t buy it! That kind of attitude annoys me to no end. So I told him that I feel that it is worth a lot less and I told him why. As I mentioned earlier, it wasn’t anything I had to have. He then proceeds to ask me what am I thinking. I told him that I am thinking about getting a hot dog right about now, enjoy the rest of your show.

  • ChrisH821ChrisH821 Posts: 1,775 ✭✭✭✭✭

    I usually just ask "what would you do on this one?" If I like the number I buy, if not I usually just say "I'll hold off on that one for now, thanks" or similar.

    Collector, occasional seller

  • I operate similar to U1chicago’s method above.

    Three stories recently.
    1. I saw a 1893-S Morgan in PCGS VF-20 at a small local show. A dealer had it whom for years I have never done business with. I quickly looked at CDN, which bid is $4500 I believe and did a quick auction search to get a round about value. The coin was ok until I saw the reverse was covered in green PVC reminence. No price on the holder, so I asked and the dealer. He priced it at $5500. Needless to say, it was too high for me. I just said “ok” and moved on. No need to waste anyone’s time.
    2. At the same show, I saw two Morgans that were premium coins. I asked a dealer for a price. He quoted me straight out of a book, which was low. I asked if I could get a better price if I bought both. He said he couldn’t, so I paid him for the two coins.
    3. Doing a initial quick scan through a large show. I saw a Morgan that the CDN was off significantly and saw a price for CDN bid on the sticker. I double checked the price with the dealer and paid them without saying another word.

    So, theee different stories of how I approached three different situations. With dealers I do steady business with, it is different, you will probably know where you stand with them.
    Everyone has different thoughts or theories when I comes to buying or selling. It is kind of like politics or religion. Some people will think you are appalling or will be offended, others may think something else.
    I am no expert or professional, just like the topic and wanted to chime in.
    Thank You

  • ReadyFireAimReadyFireAim Posts: 121 ✭✭✭
    edited December 9, 2018 8:39PM

    I write my "bid" on the back of a business card.
    I prefer not to speak to any of them.

    You'd be surprised how many pretend to be insulted only to call after the show.

    Now with true-view, shows aren't even necessary anymore.
    Thank you PCGS

  • KccoinKccoin Posts: 631 ✭✭✭

    "how much?"

  • mannie graymannie gray Posts: 4,088 ✭✭✭✭✭

    @PerryHall said:
    When you ask a dealer for his "best price" and he quotes you a number, how often is he really giving you his truly best price? I'm guessing not very often.

    When it's me ...I do.

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