Shopping for vintage Fiesta dinnerware doesn't have to be a prohibitively expensive pursuit. Negotiating a bargain price for pieces to add to my vintage Fiesta collection is second nature for me. I RARELY pay full sticker price for Fiestaware because it simply goes against my grain.

Most of the time when I find Fiesta in antique shops or galleries, I discover prices that I believe to be significantly inflated. Although vintage Fiesta dinnerware is a very popular collectible, with the exception of a few pieces which are truly rare, it's not a scarce commodity. In my experience, you can find at least a few Fiesta pieces in 2 of every 3 antique shops, so it couldn't be that hard to find. Therefore in my mind at least, any justification for exorbitant prices just doesn't seem reasonable to me, and I simply refuse to pay them. So then, how do I collect vintage Fiestaware pieces you may ask? I bargain.

I LOVE to bargain. My mother, who I believe to this day is the absolute “Queen” of bargain shopping, began teaching me bargaining basics when I was still very young. I was an apt pupil, and I dare say that now, many years later, my skills in this realm rival hers, although she will always be best. I could write a whole other story about bargain shopping alone, in fact I could write several.

Most people will walk into an antique shop, find the selection of vintage Fiesta, decide if they want to purchase, then which pieces they're interested in purchasing, take their selections to the counter, pay the merchant and go along their merry way. I'm a little different.

First of all when I go into a shop, I scout out the overall selection of available Fiestaware and its general condition. I don't buy pieces in less than fine or very fine condition, no matter how rare a particular piece may be. If it's not in near-perfect condition, I immediately walk away. I don't buy pieces with cracks (even “hairline” cracks), chips, worn glaze or other damage, with the exception of utensil marks, which can easily be removed. Glaze “skips” or uneven glaze don't really concern me. I don't come across them all that often, and I consider those to be an inherent part of the creation of the piece.

Once I've made a preliminary assessment of the Fiesta selection available, I focus in on particular pieces. I have a general catalog of my vintage Fiestaware collection inside my head. I know how many pieces I have overall, I know within “ballpark” how many pieces I have of a given color or type. Therefore, when I'm out shopping, it's pretty easy for me to spot the pieces that I'm most interested in acquiring.

I examine each piece thoroughly; visually inspecting it as well as physically handling it to identify any potential problems or defects. After doing so, I know what the price on the piece probably should be. It is only after completing this routine of inspection that I usually then check the price tag or sticker.

I would estimate that probably 80% of the time I shop for vintage Fiesta, I feel the displayed price could be better (meaning lower). At this point, if I'm only shopping for a few pieces, I'll gather them up and look for an available salesperson, or take the items to the checkout counter. If I intend to purchase a set or more than a few pieces, I just simply go to the counter without them.

Here's a tip: If you're shopping in an antique mall where there are a number of selling “booths”, know beforehand that the person at the sales counter normally has a limited ability to bargain on behalf of the owner of the items in any particular booth. The sales representative's authority to discount prices most often extends anywhere from 5% to as much as 20% from the listed price. This discount most often requires no more effort than to simply ask for it.

If you want a larger discount on your Fiestaware purchase (for example, if you're purchasing a set or a large number of pieces), it's been my experience that the total purchase amount is usually required to be above $50, and it usually requires that the salesperson contact the seller directly and consult him or her.

In the case that you're shopping at an antique store or gallery rather than a “mall”, then you're more likely to deal directly with the seller, or a person with the authority to give you a discounted price.

Oftentimes people don't get discount prices simply because they don't ask. I almost always ask. The worst that can happen is that the seller says no. However, if you appear to be genuinely interested in purchasing the Fiesta, many times you'll get a very favorable response.

If the seller seems at all resistant to the request for a discount, I'm always ready with a reason for requesting it. I'm either purchasing multiple pieces, therefore asking for a discount on volume basis, I find a piece that while not damaged, may be missing a lid or something similar, or I explain that I simply don't have it within my budget to expend the amount that they're asking for purchase.

In addition to providing added information as justification for requesting a discounted price, it's also very helpful to let the seller know that if they stock vintage Fiestaware on a regular basis, that it's very likely you'll be a repeat customer.

Believe it or not, my requests for price breaks are rarely turned down without being offered some type of discount, and most often I get the price I want or at least one that I'm very comfortable in paying. I've even gone to flea markets (the real ones) and found vintage Fiesta (a rarity these days) that was priced much more inexpensively than any price I would have found in an antique shop. Because I know that at the price the sellers are asking, I will buy nearly all the pieces that are available, I still ask for a discount. In one case, a seller sold me all the pieces I wanted at a 30% – 40% discount from their original price. Now THAT'S what I call a bargain.

So, if you're in the process of beginning a vintage Fiesta collection, or at least adding to one you already have, try asking for a discount on your purchases. You'll likely get a very pleasant surprise.

Source by Shaun Richards