My First Lesson in Negotiating

It’s Sunday, and one of the best days of the week to buy and sell trading cards. Sunday nights are typically known as the best time to end eBay auctions, and it’s also a day people list their unwanted items after a long Saturday cleaning out garages, attics, and basements.

Craigslist is a site I peruse almost daily. I am always looking for good bulk buys on baseball cards. Actively searching for sale sites is key to finding large card collections at good prices.


This past week I found a collection nearby for sale on Craigslist. It was priced at $2,000, and the pictures showed a good amount of cards (maybe 100,000 or so). Additional pictures showed some autographs, relics, etc. Nothing too high end and at first glance the “hits” appeared to me about $5 or $10 cards.

There were maybe a half dozen pictures, but not much detail. If it were priced at $500, I am definitely motivated to view what is available. At $2,000 without additional pictures I am walking away.

So, I reached out to the seller asking for more pictures. As expected, the first part of their response was: “I don’t have time for that. $1,200 gets a deal done.”


Translation: I’m not showing you more pictures because it’s mostly junk and not worth near what I’m asking.

That initial sentence he responded with led to an easy decision on my part. Not going to waste the time to view the lot because it’s not worth anything near $1,200, or especially his initial asking price.

It was the second part of his response that led to this blog post and a fun memory from my childhood. It was my first lesson in negotiating tactics.

“Have 4 people lined up for Sunday, but would love to move this by end of day.”

This listing has been posted for almost two weeks. Now all of a sudden there are four people wanting to view this on Sunday (the message to me was sent on Friday). This tells me that others have looked at it and passed, or the seller is feeding me a line of BS. It’s also telling that he immediately drops the price FORTY percent simply for my message asking if it’s still available.

Likely there are not four people looking at this collection on Sunday. It’s a negotiating tactic to inspire a quick sale by making a buyer think others are interested, so you better act fast.


I first learned of this negotiating white lie as a teenager from my dad. My dad was a gear head and throughout his life would restore classic cars and trucks. He had a coworker that fell on hard times when I was in junior high. That coworker had a 1972 Fiat Spider convertible that was out of commission, but was a great parts car. The seller wanted $400, and my dad bought it.

1972 Fiat Spider (from Google)

The Fiat Spider convertible was going to be a project, and it would be my first car as a 16-year old. Sweet, right?! Well, it never got finished and my first car was a 1989 Pontiac Sunbird. Bummer, dude!

Prom 1999. Me and my 1989 Pontiac Sunbird (it had a 12-disc CD changer in the trunk. What a bad ass ride.

Anyway, as the project to restore the Fiat was underway my dad was always looking for other parts cars and buying parts from a company in Georgia. A 1975 Fiat Spider parts car came up for sale in a nearby town, and we went to look at it one weekend.

As my dad and the seller negotiated, my dad said: “well, I’ll have to think about it. We’re looking at another one tomorrow.” As a naive teenager, I nearly spoiled my dad’s fib when I blurted out: “We are?!?” Quick on his feet, my dad told me he “forgot to tell me.”


We walked away and as we got into his truck I asked about tomorrow’s car we were looking at. He then gave me a negotiating lesson saying he told that white lie in an attempt to win the negotiation with the seller to inspire a bit of fear and letting a buyer walk away from the deal.

I’m not sure who “won” that negotiation, because we did end up buying that car. After several months and thousands of dollars spent, the project ended. My dad ended up selling both parts cars and a garage full of tires and parts for a small percentage of what was spent. My dream of cruising the back roads with the top down of an Italian sports car were dashed.


A valuable lesson was learned in that project, and it was a fun memory to look back upon. By the way…it’s Sunday afternoon and that Craigslist collection is still available.

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