Seriously, Stop Haggling At Thrift Stores If You Can Afford The Prices - It's Not Cute

It seems like everyone is acquainted with at least one wheeler dealer. You know the type: that friend who constantly switches services and utilities to find a better package deal, that cousin who always has some new money-saving "hack," or that person in your office who probably missed their calling as a used car salesman. Natural-born negotiators, some people just have an inherent knack for haggling. However, there's a time and a place to break out this bartering talent in search of a bargain. Spoiler alert: That place may not be the thrift store.

Now, you might think that a secondhand shop is the perfect place to negotiate a few bucks off your bill. After all, they're essentially creating their own prices on donated goods, aren't they? So, what's the big deal in wrangling an extra discount at the cash register? And if you're living on a tight budget, there's absolutely no shame in doing whatever you need to do to take care of yourself and your family.

But thanks to the trendiness of vintage and sustainable clothing, resale shops are popular among all clientele, including people with comfortably padded incomes. And let's be real: If you're living on six figures a year, you don't need to quibble over a $3 elephant figurine.

Items are already at a major discount

First and foremost, it's awfully cheeky for people with means to roll up to a thrift store planning to haggle over prices that are already heavily discounted over typical retail. It's like saying, "I know these items are extremely affordable, but that's not good enough. I need them to be dirt cheap!" Unless you're genuinely strapped for cash, maybe stop pinching your pennies for a second and consider what a great deal you're already getting.

According to a report by CouponFollow, thrift store shoppers save big money by buying items secondhand — $1,760 a year, on average. That's a savings of almost $150 a month for regular bargain hunters, meaning that you're already making smart money moves just by choosing resale over retail in the first place.

What's more, many thrift stores run regular sales on top of their low prices. It's common to see shops discount a different department for each day of the week, or offer percentages off certain colored tags to help move items that have been taking up shelf space for a while. So instead of haranguing the staff for a bigger deal, why not plan your trip around existing promotions? Bonus points if you hit the thrift store after a holiday weekend, as you'll be more likely to find some hidden gems. That way, you can still feel like you've escaped with an incredible bargain without resorting to petty haggling.

The cashiers probably don't set the prices

When you're angling for a discount, the most obvious place to begin negotiations may seem like the cash register. The opening is right there for you. "Hey, I see this is priced at $4.50. But would you take $3 for it?" However, this isn't a yard sale. There's a professional hierarchy at play, and just because someone is running the till doesn't mean that they have any authority to change prices for you.

Once more for those in the back: More often than not, the cashier had nothing to do with the tag on that pre-loved cardigan or gently-used garlic chopper. The prices are probably set by management, whether that means a person on-site or corporate guidelines from a major resale organization. If the cashier says, "Sorry, I can't change the price," take their refusal gracefully and drop the issue. Wheedling them to change their mind is most likely pointless.

The best most cashiers can do is summon a manager with more say over the store's stock management. Will you be able to convince said manager to cut you a deal? Maybe. But in the meantime, you're stuck holding up the checkout line. Not a good look if you don't truly need the savings.

You may be taking money away from a good cause

It can be a rush to feel like you're getting products at a steal, but that doesn't excuse pushing for lower prices at a charity shop. Many charitable resale stores, especially those run by small, local non-profits, use their revenue to directly help people in need. So, if you're haggling for fun rather than necessity, you're withholding money from a good cause.

Think about it: Is saving $2 on that vase worth taking resources away from a food-insecure family, a woman fleeing her abuser, or a homeless veteran? These may sound like dramatic examples, but charity shops exist to support just these kinds of demographics. Of course, there's the counter-argument that certain charities put a big chunk of your money toward sky-high CEO salaries and other expenses that have nothing to do with helping people. But this isn't the case everywhere, and many resale shops make a big difference in their communities. As such, it's not fair to use cynicism as an excuse to beg for discounts you don't need.

If you're genuinely concerned that a store's profit isn't supporting the greater good, consider researching their organization with tools like Charity Watch. If their so-called non-profit doesn't pass the sniff test, feel free to haggle — or, better yet, take your money to charity shops with a better track record. Of course, if you're living below the poverty line or genuinely struggling to make ends meet, it's a different story. Some shops even offer assistance programs.

You wouldn't haggle at a regular retail store

Sometimes, we require a little perspective to readjust our point of view. For instance, if you wouldn't say it to a friend, maybe you shouldn't say it to yourself. As for thrift shopping, it's time to add one more of these adages: If you wouldn't do it at a regular retailer, don't do it in a resale shop. Unless you're incredibly bold, you probably wouldn't haggle at a big-name merchandiser. So why are you holding thrift stores to a different standard? Imagine demanding the cashier at H&M give you 10% off a jacket just because, or begging for discounts at Target because you aren't sure if an item will fit your needs. Cringey, right?

If you're that concerned about whether a product at a resale shop will work for you, ask whether they have a return policy. The answer might surprise you. And if your particular thrift store doesn't take returns or exchanges, consider whether buying that item is really worth the risk. If you're looking for something very specific and can feasibly afford to pay full price, you might be better off buying it from a mainstream retailer.

Long story short, some people sincerely live paycheck to paycheck, and go to resale shops to meet their basic needs. But if you're just thrifting for fun, trying to squeeze an unneeded discount out of a minimum-wage thrift store cashier is tasteless. So don't be that customer. Treat the crew at your local resale shop with the same manners and courtesy you would anyone else in the service industry — and cut it out with the entitled haggling already. Seriously, it's not cute.