One Way or Another
Sunday, July 29, 2007
A woman sifts through rin gs jumbled together in a je welry pan. It's a hot and lazy Sunday afternoon, and the vendor tending this booth at the Georgetown Flea Market in Arlington begins to load his wares back into his truck.
The woman, Alice Bennett of Placerville, Calif., in town with her church group, picks up a ring and squints at it in the sunlight.
How much for this?
The answer comes swiftly, without hesitation: Three dollars.
She fishes around, finds another and looks back up at the vendor:
How about two for $5?
Done and done. She hands him a crisp bill, slides the rings on and off and smiles, satisfied.
"You never know if you don't ask," she says, shrugging her shoulders.
Her husband, Bob, agrees. "If you pay the first thing they ask for, they think you're an idiot," he says. "Price is arbitrary."
That is to say: Price is negotiable.
And it makes us wonder: What isn't negotiable? And, more important, why do we negotiate the things we do?
When you negotiate to save $1 -- an amount that won't even buy you a bottle of water from the man hawking them at the flea market -- is it really about price?