Back to Ganoksin | FAQ | Contact

Customer Discounts

Was: hould prices be visible?

I just had a craft fair customer ask if she could get a discount
if she bought both the earrings and the pendant. This was a set
that was under $100 total. When I told her no, she bought them
anyway. I think she just asks for discounts everywhere she goes,
and is happy when she sometimes gets them. We were both nice to
each other about it, but I actually did not like the experience
very much, except the part when she did buy them! 

Having done Craft Fairs, Trunk Shows and such, it’s no surprise to
me when people ask for discounts when buying groups of items at
these types of events. It seems it’s the norm to try to haggle with
the starving artist and keep them hungry.

But I work in a High End Mall in San Francisco no less, in a fairly
High End (name withheld) jewelry store and (some) people ask for
discounts on single items nearly as soon as they are in the door.
Like a $ 1900 diamond necklace…they wanted to pay $900 and NO TAX
(clearly something I can’t do) Then they are mad when I say “I’m
sorry I can’t do that”.

Heck, I had one customer that wanted an item from our Sale case
which is already 40% off and they wanted another 20% off !!!, now
that takes nerve.

Maybe I don’t have enough experience in the “brand name” jewelry
market and just haven’t seen it… but do people ask for and really
get discounts at places like Derco’s, Tiffany’s, DeBeers or even
Kay’s ??? I find it hard to imagine.

Anyone one have any insights?


I don’t know about jewelry stores, but I think when people see you
selling your items out of a tent they automatically think they can
barter. Only you can decide if you are willing to discount.
Personally, I will discount if the price is already high enough and
if I really feel the need to sell the piece or the customer is a
repeat customer and spends alot on my work over time, etc. Often
times I will pay the tax for the customer as a small discount. But,
one thing that really makes me mad is when a customer comes into my
booth and asks me very loudly, so everyone else can hear, if they
can get a discount. Most times I tell them they are already getting a
bargain!! All I can say is it’s the “Great Economy”.


but do people ask for and really get discounts at places like
Derco's, Tiffany's, DeBeers or even Kay's ??? 

People ask for discounts everywhere they go. Unfortunately we have
only ourselves to blame for making pricing the most important buying
issue instead of quality. I don’t know about all of the higher end
places (or places like Kay’s), but I do know that both Cartier and
Tiffany’s will “negotiate” prices on very high end merchandise. They
don’t call it discounting, usually they are dealing with goods that
cost what some houses do, and it’s done in private settings. I have
had a number of customers who have “negotiated” price with them.
However I’m sure if someone walked in off the street and wanted some
$200 silver piece at Tiffany’s discounted they would just get noses
turned up at them.

Daniel R. Spirer, G.G.
Daniel R. Spirer Jewelers, LLC
1780 Massachusetts Ave.
Cambridge, MA 02140

Most times I tell them they are already getting a bargain!! 

Hadn’t thought od this-- I may use it!

Last weekend, at a pretty high-end show in a wealthy suburb of
Chicago, I had three people who clearly could have bought and sold
me ask me whether that was my best price. All three bought the piece
anyway, and only the last one actually got any discount. It was a
fairly expensive piece, it was late on Sunday, and I wanted to go
home with the money.

“How much is this?”
“How’d you come up with a price like that?”
“I ran out of 5’s, so you save a buck.”
“What’s your best price?”

(I should have said, “My best price? $800!” I swear, next time
someone asks “Can you do any better?” I’m going to try to remember to
say, “Well, $800 would be better…”)

That’s how the show went. My sneaking suspicion is that if these
folks thought I made anywhere near as much as they do, they wouldn’t
try to haggle.


OK - I’ve looked and can’t find it online, but there was a news
story on NPR sometime last week regarding the trend toward asking for
discounts EVERYWHERE. It may have been on Marketplace… I honestly
don’t remember. But the report encouraged consumers not to be afraid
to ask for discounts in retail establishments and gave advice on how
to do so in a way that was non-insulting and non-public.

While they gave examples like the purchase of a digital camera (If
you can’t get a price discount, request a free tripod and camera
bag), I think it definitely reflects the mindset of a public that’s
being stretched by inflationary prices in some key areas… they
won’t avoid buying luxuries but are going to be certain that they get
the absolute most for their money that they can.

Karen Goeller
No Limitations Designs
Hand-made, one-of-a-kind jewelry

Hi Gang,

If many/most of your customers ask for a discount, why not mark
everything up 25%. Then when they ask for a discount you can give
them 10% & still come out ahead.

I had a friend that had a customer that always asked for a discount.
He used this tactic & it was a win win. Both got what they wanted.


I think there are so many variables here it’s hard to give one
proper awnser. How much are they spending, Are they a repeat
customer, is what they are buying something you’ve had a while and
are tired of looking at? About once a year I get the studmuffin
boyfriend or husband who is going to prove his manliness by offering
me cash if I give them some absurd discount. Funny they are always
the same type. Also snooty older women, usually draped in gold who
have the same requests though they never offer cash.I actually had a
woman come to me at a Florida show give me her daughters business
card and tell me her daughter owned a 50,000 square foot furniture
show room in New York City and therefor she was intitled to buy
anything she wanted at the show at half price. When that didn’t work
she started telling me that it wasn’t that great a piece and that I
might as well sell it to her at half price because no one else would
ever want it. To those its a firm no. If its someone who really likes
a piece but just can’t seem to quite afford it sometimes I will offer
a discount just because I think the piece will go to a good home.

Dave Owen

It is becoming the trend in the US to ask for a discount on
everything, everywhere. The theory is, “If you don’t ask, you don’t
get. If you do ask, you still might not get, but then again, you
might. So ask – they can’t kill you for asking!”

So we have four options available to us. We can be insulted when
people ask, which is going to hurt our business. We can be prepared
by raising our prices a little bit, and then giving the “discount” to
what we had intended to charge in the first place, which could work
for or against us (some won’t ask for a discount, and may walk away
because the price is now too high). We can take an occasional hit in
the profit margin. Or we can decide not to negotiate.

I think a combination of the latter three could work well. If it
looks like someone isn’t going to buy something unless they get a
discount on it, steer them towards a piece that we’ve marked up for
that purpose. (“But I do have this similar bracelet over here that I
think I could make you a deal on…”) If they’re absolutely in love
with the piece, take a small hit, knowing that it will likely be
good for business in the long run. But some pieces, and you know
which ones they are, demand full price, and you accept nothing less.

The reason I don’t do this is because I would like to educate the
public - I would like them to know that just because I am not in a
storefront, but rather a tent, that I have established my prices for
a reason. This is what I feel the work is worth and should sell for.
It’s an honest price based on my time and materials. And
furthermore, why should I overcharge across the board for a few
people that feel like they have to get a deal. If I discount
something, I do it discreetly and it is usually because it is a
repeat customer - almost never because they ask for it. It is rather
my decision to take the hit. I just think discounting opens up a can
of worms and makes you look desperate for a sale ---- and makes you
look like you were overcharging to begin with. My opinion.


I know of a store owner who did this. I have a few problems with it.

  1. The customer has now been taught that they can get discounts.
    This is encouraging them to ask other stores and to expect it.
    Independent businesses have enough stress as it is. Why add to it?

  2. What about the polite customer with good manners who doesn’t ask
    for a discount in a jewelry store or a boutique. They get punished
    by paying the extra 25% mark-up.

I think there is a time and a place for discounts. I think a flea
market, a swap meet or a garage sale is a great place to bargain.
the Tucson gem faire is another example where I think it’s fine to
ask for discounts, especially on quantity.

I don’t think a retail jewelry store is an appropriate place to
barter. When I worked retail we’d have people come in that would
argue until we kicked them out for discounts. They were very rude
and pushy and inappropriate. A lot of our items were consigned, most
were handmade. Trying to explain this to these customers was a waste
of breath. They didn’t care about the jewelry, they were in it for
the hunt of the bargain. It’s a different mentality.

Amery Carriere Designs
Romantic Jewelry with an Edge


Yes, indeed you did hear that. I heard it on a Money show on CBS
Radio. There is a new book out which has Bargaining Boot Camp, or
similar in it.

I heard an interview with the author, and he gave a couple of
personal experiences. One was a wrist watch he wanted, which at his
Jeweler was $3000., well online he found it for $1,700. He went back
to the jeweler and showed/told him about the Internet price and
asked if he would match it. The jeweler asked him and what if I
don’t? The author told him, I will buy in from the Internet. The
jeweler sold him the watch at $1,700.

His next story, was wanting a suit at a San Francisco Men’s Store
known to never discount. It was there, rather than discount the
suit, he got a pair of shoes thrown in.

I personally dislike bargaining, my mother loved it. I was in
Thailand with my Thai boyfriend some years ago, and we were shopping
for stones and jewelry. He told me to keep my mouth shut, and he did
the negotiating. Having been a world traveler in my younger days, I
came to know that within some cultures, if you fail to bargain, you
are considered a fool.


I create one of pieces. Discounts are available next door, up the
street or you can make your own. I do what I need to until I am
satisfied with the piece, no power tools, one propane torch and a
lot of files and hand polishing. (i like it like that). I will not
work for a reduced rate or for free. Prices are based upon material,
time, effort and my satisfaction with the finished piece. 100%
refund. A flat demand for a discount will receive a 25% increase. My
best price is the price. If the prospect doesn’t value the piece as
much as I, they don’t deserve it. Though few and far between there
are customers who appreciate and value craftsmanship over discounts.
never have, never will doing nicely thank you.

When I maintained a storefront, I had a “Volume Sales Discount Only.
Open your Account Today” sign very unobtrusively posted near the
cash register- in engraved plastic, as you would see on someone’s
desk -like a name plate… Not only did it give me a broader customer
base, referrals from account holders to their friends, but a ton of
quick repair sales,special orders, and more custom jobs than without
making a client feel as though this was their jeweler…their jewlery
store at which they would get the best price,fair treatment, and
lagniappe that comes with that little pre-printed plastic card( and a
holiday season promotional gift delivered to their homes-like
fruit,chocolates and champagne ,monogrammed sterling stamp roll
holders, momogrammed egyptian cotton robes (big mistake there-people
then wanted to buy more…it wss hell ordering and coordinating robes
of all things at a jewelry store,with compound and polishings going
on,particles everywhere just from the ancient building,
etc…)…little personalized luxuries in our distinctive
packaging,not calendars,or pens!! etc.).

We also had the good fortune of having had purchased a bank of safe
deposit boxes, that were free with an account, based on
availability.It was worth the extra 200 bucks a year in fidelity and
sureties from the insurance co. to offer them a climate controlled
tarnish proofed place to leave their valuable jewelry when going on
extended holiday,vacations, etc…(Sometimes you can buy these
cheaply from closing banks and post offices.I’ve even seen them on
eBay). There is a monthly magazine,free to the trade, called
"Promotions" that keeps you abreast of the latest in incentives and
promotions for employees and account holders that makes for
interesting trend-spotting


I call it the garage sale mentality. I love having a garage sale.
It’s fun for me except when a certain type of person will want to
haggle over 50 cents for a used kid’s t-shirt. That stuff drives me


Hi all,

When people ask us for a discount it really depends on the items in
question and how they ask, if they’re buying several things and we
haven’t sold much that day we might take ten percent off. If it’s
only one item we tell them that the price is already a very good
deal and that it doesn’t come from a sweat shop. If they’re rude we
say “actually it’s going to be 6 percent more with sales tax.”

When we buy stones in Thailand we look at the stones and ask the
price, and if we like the stones but feel the price is too high we
negotiate until everyone is happy or we don’t buy. The point is that
we have a pretty good idea what the fair market value is for the
goods in question, so we base our negotiations on that. The
difference is that most of our customers have very little idea what
the real value of the stones, metal, or above all time and
workmanship are. They see it and they like it, or not. If they ask
for a discount it’s probably not because they can’t afford it, I
suspect they’re just trying to make themselves feel smart for
getting a better deal. So it’s really all situational. I’m sure I’ve
made an ass of myself more than once haggling over a ten baht a
carat difference so I try to give people some slack. The most
importatnt thing is to always keep a smile.