Is It Ethical To Negotiate At Goodwill?

Is It Ethical To Negotiate At Goodwill?

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Is it ethical to negotiate at Goodwill? We got this question on social media recently on one of our videos where we talked about trying to negotiate at Goodwill. People commented that we shouldn’t negotiate at Goodwill and others said Goodwill gets their stuff for free so it’s fine. 

Can you negotiate at stores? 

I’ve been in this business for almost three decades and I’ve negotiated almost everywhere you can think of including Lowe’s, Home Depot, Goodwill, and the Salvation Army.

I will try to negotiate. Does that mean they have to negotiate with me? No, that does not. They have the opportunity to say, “No, we are firm on this price and we will not negotiate.”

Is It Ethical To Negotiate At Goodwill?

Negotiating At Stores

Recently I was at Tractor Supply and they had a cart of lawnmower belts on clearance from $25 and $50 down to $5 each. I asked them if they’d take $25 for the whole thing and they said no, but they’d sell me each belt for $1. They were brand spanking new, some were just being discontinued. The manager gave me a great deal but he also got something out of it. You can do this with any store, you just have to ask

I love going to Lowe’s and negotiating on scratch or dent items. I can say, “You guys have this marked down to $1,000. Would you take $700?” They have a buyer right there in front of them, and a lot of times they will take the negotiation on that item.

Usually people are willing to negotiate when they have to move inventory. If you can take that off their hands, then it’s a win-win for each party, which is what makes it a negotiation. There has to be something in it for both pirates. 

Who draws the line on who can be negotiated with? You do.

Negotiating At Goodwill

Goodwill gets donations and sometimes they need to move them quickly to accommodate more donations. Does that mean it’s unethical to do it in my book? Absolutely not, because they ultimately have the decision to say, “Yes, we’ll take less money, or no, we won’t.”

The item in the video was a personal sauna. It was being sold for $200 and I asked if the manager would do $100. The manager didn’t want to negotiate and that was ok. I ended up purchasing it at full price anyway and sold it for $1,700 so it was a decent profit. I just tried to negotiate for less because I wasn’t sure how long I would sit on it and it would’ve been better to be out $100 versus $200. It sold within a month or two and we made some good profit.

When Does Negotiation Make Sense?

Negotiation has to make sense for both parties. We negotiate at the flea market all the time. These people are really trying to move their stuff. They want it gone, but it has to make sense for us as a buyer too. It has to be a win for everyone. 

Typically on a normal item inside of Lowe’s or Home Depot, they won’t negotiate on the price because they have very small markups on their items that they’re selling already at a low price. Items that have been put on clearance are often where there’s room to negotiate.

Negotiate The Right Way

There is a right and a wrong way to negotiate. You always want to be respectful. You never want to tear anybody down. If you are meeting someone on Marketplace, don’t trash talk their item if it’s not in great condition. Don’t be rude. 

We had a terrible experience where someone came to our house to buy an item and they were very rude (check out podcast episode 114). The negotiation did not go their way and we did not sell them the item. 

If something doesn’t work for you, just walk away. Be polite and cordial with whatever you’re trying to purchase an item. You never know when you could make a relationship with a repeat seller or buyer. We’d love to hear about your negotiation stories. Comment below or email them to [email protected].

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Robert Stephenson

I grew up in Central Florida and have lived here my whole life. I first got into buying and selling items when I was 16 years old, and have been hooked ever since. It has mostly been a hobby that makes some extra cash, but sometimes it serves as my main income as well. I don't plan on stopping any time soon. I find too many fun toys for my family (or myself), and just love the whole process.

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