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December 21, 2010

When seeking retail discounts, attitude is everything

I took the day off work yesterday and went shopping with Gem. We had some last minute Christmas presents to find and we wanted to catch up after we each had our share of stories to tell. So after a stop for coffee and tea, we hit a few cute local boutiques.

The first one we stopped in, Pretty Please, had a fabulous array of earrings. As I inspected the offerings I realized I could finish all my shopping right there, at that counter! Gorgeous wares, low effort and a reasonable price? Fa-la-la-la-la!

As I lined them up on the counter, I asked the saleswoman, "If I get a few pairs could you give me a little break? I don't know, whatever price you think is fair."

It was basically reflex, since the prices were already not that bad. Yet I considered that I was buying almost half a dozen, and they were surely marked up enough for the store to make a nice profit.

Why not try?

"How many pairs are you getting?" she wondered.

"Let's see...
One pair for Gem.
One pair for my sister.
One pair for a cousin.
One pair for another friend.
And one pair for... me.
Five pairs. No pressure, just thought I'd see."

"Sure, I can do something."

When she rang me up, my jaw dropped. She gave me four pairs at about 30 percent off, and one pair full price. 

"You are so sweet! Thanks! I almost didn't ask, because I was thinking that the price is great and they're presents, but I figured why not... if you're earning what you want on them and I can stretch my dollars a little, we're both happy, right? Thanks so much! I will totally be back."

"It's totally cool you asked, and I hope you come back soon. You know," she added, "from our perspective it's all about the attitude."

"What attitude?"

"It's how you ask. You were relaxed and friendly. It wasn't like you were expecting it."

"Give me a discount NOW!" I joked.

"Yeah. You were sweet about it. We like helping people who are nice."

Score one more for the smile approach.

For more about attitudes and moods while asking, here's a scientific/statistical write-up from my year of daily asking: (scroll down to bolded questions 3 and 4.)

For tips on how to ask in a variety of settings, here's a 3-part series, called 44 Easy Asks:

And for a history of earrings, check out the blog where I found that photo:

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