In this business you’ll see a lot of cool things. Part of the bargaining process can be made or broken by the expression on your face. So, lets talk about your poker face. Just like anything else, you have to practice it. Study it in the mirror, the “don’t laugh” challenge videos are a great practice tool.
In the past I’ve talked about the Granger fishing pole, and how we could have possibly almost lost it. Now, the other person probably knew as much about it as we did, but she knew it was something we were excited about. I had a bad poker face back then, its gotten much better now.
That comes from learning from my mistakes. I’ve been at this for a time, and now I have a system. I’ll peruse through a booth, or stall, and if I see something that catches my eye, I’ll just casually walk by to get a better look. If necessary I’ll pick it up and inspect it so as to get an idea of what it is. Then, I’ll put it back down and walkaway. I get out my phone, and start doing my 30 seconds of research.
The 30 seconds of research gives me a base of knowledge of what it is, and what it’s potential value could be. If I like what I see I’ll go back and start talking to the proprietor and the haggling starts. But, you have to keep your emotions off your face. No matter how excited you are, you gotta squelch those feels.
The seller, most likely, has been at this longer than both of us put together, so he or she is probably really good at reading people. You’re not just trying to hide it from the competition, but the seller too. If they get the inkling that you really want it, they will get the idea that you’ll pay a higher price, and you may not get the best possible deal.
Other people who think you know what you’re doing might possibly take cues from you, they may swoop in and grab something up that you showed a small bit of interest in. Those things tend to happen. As it stands, I have a person who has taken several pages out of my book. I think it's because they think I know what I’m doing. Honestly, I’m still trying to figure it out!
A good way to “claim” an item, if you think someone is going to swipe something from underneath you, carry it around if you can. I do this if we go into an antique mall and I find something really cool I am probably going to buy, I’ll carry it around with me. If it’s a large item, ask the front desk if they have a holding area you can put things in that you plan to buy. Then others will know its yours.
Most antique malls do have such a thing, one of the ones I frequent has a large harvest style table right by the checkout desk. You can put something down there, and they keep an eye on it for you while you shop, worry free. Also keeps your hands empty so you can rummage.
If you’re at the outdoor swap meet, carrying around something you’ve not bought might not be possible. But, you can ask the seller, and it’ll be at their discretion, “Can you hold this for me for x amount of time while I think about it?” Some are willing to do this, some won’t. Me personally, I won’t. You want it, you buy it. But some will. If its a particularly large piece that you don’t have the capability to carry with you, see if they’ll let you pay for it, and leave it in the space until you can pull your car around and such.
To sum up: Don’t look too excited. Get excited, just don’t let it show on your face.