Driving hard bargains at a big antique mall

July 27, 2010
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For insight into just how tight shoppers have become, consider the activity at Exit 76 Antique Mall, one of the largest in the Midwest.

The mall, which is near Columbus, is seeing a boom in customers’ asking mall personnel to call vendors and chisel down their prices, says Denise Pence, who owns the mall with her husband, Gregory (a brother of Congressman Mike Pence).

Customers made the request only occasionally a few years ago. Now one or two out of 10 do, Pence estimates. And when they do, they usually get a discount of about 10 percent. This isn’t so different from people showing up at garage sales and asking if the price on the tag is the best one available.

Keep in mind that many antiques already are heavily discounted from what they might have cost a few years ago.

“People are willing to wait the extra 10, 15 minutes” to get an answer from a vendor, she says. “They’re not willing to settle on something. They’re just going to look for a better price.”

Frugality also has hit young adults in a big way. Exit 76 has seen an increase in traffic from adults ages 23 to 35, many of whom are stocking apartments or first homes. Shabby chic furniture is a big seller.

Does Pence’s experience square with yours? What are you seeing?



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