About a week ago I stopped in at a local gun show – before I go any further, I want to throw out a quick disclaimer due to the current sensitivity surrounding guns and gun regulation. I went to the show looking for antique guns – the kinds that are meant to be displayed, not used. I mainly collect pieces from the 1800s or earlier, almost all of which black powder muzzle loaders. While gun shows aren’t exactly known for carrying these types of guns, I almost always find one or two booths that sell strictly antique weaponry, ie swords, guns and rifles dating back 100 to 200 years. In my opinion, these weapons played a huge role in our history, and I find them to be a fascinating historic collectible.
Continuing on to the real reason I wanted to share this story: how I was able to score a fantastic deal.
I found a booth with two beautiful vintage hand guns. I would have liked to own both, but really had my eyes set on the British VR Tower Pistol. The piece was from the early 1800s and I knew I had to have it; however, I knew I wasn’t willing to pay the asking price. So, as always, I started to negotiate with the seller. I asked for the best deal he could do and immediately said it was too high. He came back, asking what I was looking to pay and quickly stated that my price was too low. I could tell he wanted to sell the gun, but wasn’t going to let it go easily; and I certainly wanted the gun, but wasn’t willing to rise to his price.
So the guy gives me a look and says, “Son, are you a betting man?” I have been known to lay a wager from time to time, so I asked what he had in mind.
“You want this pistol for $375, but I don’t want to sell it for less than $475. How about we flip for it? I’ve got a silver dollar in my pocket, and I’d even let you call it. If you call right, you get it for your price. You call it wrong, you pay mine. Or we skip the coin toss all together, and I’ll give you the pistol right now for $425. If you decide to flip for it, there’s no backing out once it’s in the air.”
I thought about it for a minute or two and decide that I really wanted the pistol and thought it was worth the risk. So the man flipped the coin, and I called “heads.” We gathered around as the coin fell to the ground.
At this point we had attracted a bit of a crowd, and a little kid scrambled to the coin and yelled “It’s heads!” The crowd got excited and congratulated me on my win. I had won the gun for the price I had wanted.
I certainly don’t recommend this approach for every purchase – or even for any purchase – but I will tell you that this sale will definitely stay in my mind and I can bet it will stay with the seller as well. What’s even better, after our friendly interaction, the man and I developed a mutual respect for each other, and I can guarantee he will let me know when he gets a piece of interest in the future. We both enjoyed the transaction, and developing a relationship with both buyers and sellers is one of the most important components of being successful in this business. You never know when a seller might get in a hot ticket item you’ve been dying to get your hands on, and you definitely want to be the first person they call. On the flip side, you want have a list of buyers you can call when their favorite items wind up in your collection. No matter what side you’re working on, it’s always good to know that the last deal you completed was finished with a smile and handshake.
Good luck, and happy hunting!