Are Bonsai Prices Negotiable?

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Are Bonsai Prices Negotiable?

Post  drgonzo on Sun Feb 12, 2012 1:59 am

Hello All,

This is just something I've been wondering. Is it considered uncouth to "make an offer" on a tree. Now I'm not talking about the dinky stuff, I'm talking about material in the $1000 dollar plus range.

I know this might seem a weird question, like; 'do you tip your tattoo artist?'
But I though no harm in asking for opinions.

So What is the general consensus?

My thanks and my best as always,
-Jay

PS... yes, you tip your tattoo artist.

drgonzo
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Re: Are Bonsai Prices Negotiable?

Post  Billy M. Rhodes on Sun Feb 12, 2012 2:04 am

Anything is negotiable.

Billy M. Rhodes
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Re: Are Bonsai Prices Negotiable?

Post  drgonzo on Sun Feb 12, 2012 2:21 am

Billy M. Rhodes wrote:Anything is negotiable.

Spoken like a guy who knows how to work a yard sale!

drgonzo
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Re: Are Bonsai Prices Negotiable?

Post  Russell Coker on Sun Feb 12, 2012 2:22 am


Are you talking about walking into someone's backyard and saying "I'll give you 1000 bucks for that tree", or are you dealing with someone who has nice things for sale, or someone who does nothing but buy and sell trees? Do you know the person?

And I agree with Billy.

Russell Coker
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Re: Are Bonsai Prices Negotiable?

Post  Poink88 on Sun Feb 12, 2012 2:26 am

You lose nothing by asking? Wink

Poink88
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Re: Are Bonsai Prices Negotiable?

Post  drgonzo on Sun Feb 12, 2012 2:30 am

Russell Coker wrote:
Are you talking about walking into someone's backyard and saying "I'll give you 1000 bucks for that tree", or are you dealing with someone who has nice things for sale, or someone who does nothing but buy and sell trees? Do you know the person?

And I agree with Billy.

I'm talking about established artists who regularly sell trees. Retail growers who train and sell their own stock. You know how some things you buy..."the price is what it is" and other things its considered OK to haggle a bit. I wondered if bonsai worked that way, or if it was rude to haggle.

-Jay

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Re: Are Bonsai Prices Negotiable?

Post  Russell Coker on Sun Feb 12, 2012 2:55 am


Jay, I would guess that someone who regularly sells trees would almost expect it. But then I guess it depends on who that someone is, how good your offer is, and how motivated they are to sell. Personally, I don't think it would be considered rude. If the bonsai are already for sale the seller has a figure in mind, but asking and getting are two different things. Guess you won't know until you try!

Probably the quickest way to find out is to ask if the prices are negotialbe - and that's a fair question.

Russell Coker
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Re: Are Bonsai Prices Negotiable?

Post  Orion on Sun Feb 12, 2012 3:00 am

I think it would depend on how many percentage points you are asking them to drop. Usually, there's no harm in asking if they would accept 10-15% less than the asking price.

Orion
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Re: Are Bonsai Prices Negotiable?

Post  drgonzo on Sun Feb 12, 2012 3:08 am

Russell Coker wrote:

Probably the quickest way to find out is to ask if the prices are negotialbe - and that's a fair question.

That is a fair question, and a nice way of finding out without comming off as jerky...

drgonzo
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Re: Are Bonsai Prices Negotiable?

Post  Russell Coker on Sun Feb 12, 2012 3:15 am

drgonzo wrote:
Russell Coker wrote:

Probably the quickest way to find out is to ask if the prices are negotialbe - and that's a fair question.

That is a fair question, and a nice way of finding out without comming off as jerky...


I think so, but there's ego involved too. Is the seller down-to-earth and realistic, or a total knob who thinks he's God's gift to bonsai?

Russell Coker
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Re: Are Bonsai Prices Negotiable?

Post  Poink88 on Sun Feb 12, 2012 3:21 am

Russell Coker wrote:I think so, but there's ego involved too. Is the seller down-to-earth and realistic, or a total knob who thinks he's God's gift to bonsai?
In that case, he doesn't deserve my money to begin with. I'll take it somewhere else.

Poink88
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Re: Are Bonsai Prices Negotiable?

Post  Russell Coker on Sun Feb 12, 2012 3:41 am



Dario, it depends on what they're selling and how badly you want it!

Russell Coker
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Re: Are Bonsai Prices Negotiable?

Post  drgonzo on Sun Feb 12, 2012 3:52 am

Poink88 wrote:
Russell Coker wrote:I think so, but there's ego involved too. Is the seller down-to-earth and realistic, or a total knob who thinks he's God's gift to bonsai?
In that case, he doesn't deserve my money to begin with. I'll take it somewhere else.

Sometimes its just par for the course with the art world. I've met artists who would ask you to leave their gallery if you dared undercut the list price, and others who are grateful if you even consider paying them for anything they have done.

But bonsai is horticultural as well, and time factors into things too, its unusual, thats why I thought I'd ask what people thought. I figured if negotiating was a taboo in the bonsai world better to find out from my IBC friends first rather than go make an ass of myself.
I do that well enough as it is.
-Jay


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Re: Are Bonsai Prices Negotiable?

Post  coh on Sun Feb 12, 2012 4:20 am

I have some experience as a seller - not of trees, but of paintings. Ultimately, for the transaction to be completed, the price has to be acceptable to both the buyer and seller. I set my price at what seems "reasonable" to me but I don't mind when someone asks for a discount - after all, it's so difficult to determine the monetary value for any piece of art. If someone makes a real "low ball" offer I might take offense (and in fact would probably not give any discount from the list price), but something like 10% is actually fairly standard in many art galleries.

Are you looking to buy that $50,000 masterpiece bonsai? I've seen some on ebay!

coh
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Re: Are Bonsai Prices Negotiable?

Post  William N. Valavanis on Sun Feb 12, 2012 4:28 am

I think it's fine to ask for a lower price and sometimes do it myself.

Now I'm in Japan and a few days ago it was commonly done at the Ueno Green Club sales area for the Kokufuten bonsai exhibition..

Bill

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Re: Are Bonsai Prices Negotiable?

Post  Russell Coker on Sun Feb 12, 2012 4:29 am



Very Happy Very Happy

Russell Coker
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Re: Are Bonsai Prices Negotiable?

Post  drgonzo on Sun Feb 12, 2012 4:44 am

Thanks everyone, Well If Bill And Russell and Chris all say I'm in good form, then I feel alot more comfortable next time I'm confronted with the $50,000 dollar masterpiece.

And thank you for your very generous offer over PM to split it with me Chris!
You can come visit on weekends, and I'll let you weed it Very Happy
-Jay

drgonzo
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Re: Are Bonsai Prices Negotiable?

Post  coh on Sun Feb 12, 2012 5:09 am

I've already contacted my lawyer about the custody agreement...

coh
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Re: Are Bonsai Prices Negotiable?

Post  Ebbtide on Sun Feb 12, 2012 5:52 am

i haggle for some purchases done in person. a vendor sold a USD500 tree to me for 375. i wish i can do the same for online purchases.

Ebbtide
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Re: Are Bonsai Prices Negotiable?

Post  marcus watts on Sun Feb 12, 2012 8:14 am

Hi Jay and all.

Yes I think there is always a bit of movement on prices put on trees. If you know the tree history and it has been on the site for a year or two the price will certainly be negotiable, if it is a new tree you weigh up its uniqueness and rareity and decide is the asking price realistic. Then you adjust the offer.

Firstly everyone in legitamate business needs to make a true profit - we all have overheads, tax bills etc so this has a bearing and the price you will pay will reflect the quality of the business you are visiting, the choice and health of stock etc. BUT............ As soon as you are round the back of someones house and bonsai isnt their fulltime day job you are in a good position - they will have price tags attached that mirror nursery prices for sure! - The tree will have a probable 100% mark up from purchase cost (nothing wrong with that to set the initial rrp, goldfish and koi were often way higher). If we have a £1000 rrp tree with initial £500 profit you can start to work out a fair offer price. The 20% for the VAT wont be forwarded to the government !! so that knocks of £100 (vat on profit), the individual will want cash so they pay no card or bank fees (deduct 5% of total sale price- £50), certainly no income tax (25% of profit so deduct £125), and 10% wont go to the national insurance (£50). These are all costs a nursery will pay and a 'cash dealer' wont, so dont feel guilty deducting them in your head - Now we have a realistic price £1000 less £325 = £675.00 - now offer £625 for cash and settle on £650.00. If tree was 'free' to dealer but has been worked on I'd half the purchase price to reflect the work put in and rework sums out

the seller is the key - a bloke thinking he's gods gift wanting £3000 for a trunk chop native tree would never get £1.00 of my money, ever !, a realistic seller with similar material knows the branch structure is a 15 year job on a chop so the material is only worth £300-£500.00, it would be the finished tree that may fetch £3k not the material that can form it.

Also be happy to walk away - revisit later on and 9 times out of 10 the tree will still be there (the high price trees dont fly off the shelf) - comment that the tree is still sat there and of your previous offer, you'd be surprised how often it is accepted a few months later. In a proper nursery another way to deal is to offer to pay the full ticket price for the main tree if you can take another tree for nothing - this has given me higher percentage gains and two trees for the price of one Very Happy an exact example would be buying a £1600 ticket price specimen (that was very well priced too, worth every penny) and getting the choice of any raw material up to £400.

Plus there are genuine off season sales when cashflow is needed, older stock is cleared for new stock commitments etc - these are often 25%-50% off ticket price - at 50% the material is close to cost price so is the best deal a normal individual will get. some trees are rare of course and if you want them you have to pay what you are happy to part with -buying a good tree from a personal collection gives less movement for haggling if the owner isnt desperate to sell, but you can offer a fair percentage less and say to them "keep the pot", that can result in a few hundred saved.

great question

Marcus

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Re: Are Bonsai Prices Negotiable?

Post  Seth Ellwood on Sun Feb 12, 2012 3:43 pm

I think the art of negotiating is part of the comrodery and fun.You can get a feel for somone while engaged in the dance and usually their true colors come out. I negotiate the price of all trees I buy and more times than not end up getting a better deal then even I was expecting and have gained a few good friends along the way .It also gives the seller the opportunity to let their guard down and you can find out the history of a tree and if you communicate well the history of every other tree in thre nursery Shocked But thats part of the fun.I say if the price is fair pay it but if you feel that the price is not what you are willing to pay start off with small talk try to find out the history of the tree do the same with a few others then come back to the tree in question and start dancing... Good luck with your purchase.

Seth Ellwood
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Re: Are Bonsai Prices Negotiable?

Post  Fore on Sun Feb 12, 2012 3:58 pm

Great question and great responses. I too have been somewhat reluctant to ask for a discount as I didn't want to insult the nursery owner. Now I feel a bit more confidant to at least ask. lol

Fore
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Re: Are Bonsai Prices Negotiable?

Post  dick benbow on Sun Feb 12, 2012 4:25 pm

Another factor is timing, as to when it's appropriate to make an offer. Winter time has it's bills and expenses for
retail shops and very little revenue coming in. So as winter takes hold and before the potting needs of spring, an offer on a tree at that time would get serious consideration as opposed to just before a flowering tree hits full display.

I have more actual knowledge from my trips to japan while buying koi. after the harvest, prices are not negotiable unless your buying numbers and then a special fish may be part of the deal. best time there is to go after all the
visitors/buyers have returned home and they're still sitting on the fish with winter looming ahead. Offers then get better consideration and the chance to embarrass oneself is less likely to happen.

dick benbow
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Re: Are Bonsai Prices Negotiable?

Post  Todd Ellis on Sun Feb 12, 2012 4:27 pm

Hi Jay,
I'm glad you asked this question. Artists, by their very nature, whether accomplished or budding, are sensitive people. I believe many of us get all wrapped up in the mystique of our art (nothing wrong with this) and some of us "bonsai people" ignore common sense. In trying to explain the legitimacy of bonsai art to the "non informed" I often tell many people that "... in Japan some trees are worth tens and hundreds of thousands of dollars ... people invest in them like Americans invest in stocks ... " This is my attempt to glorify this awesome art form. The reality, as Bill and Marcus point out, is that bonsai growers who earn their living in this "trade" have to sell their product. My experience in selling my crafts, and also bonsai, comes down to this: In one sense anything is worth what people are willing to pay for it. In another sense, our trees are our children and hence, priceless. Great post!
Best,
Todd

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Re: Are Bonsai Prices Negotiable?

Post  Bob Pressler on Sun Feb 12, 2012 4:29 pm

It happens all the time. I don't mind when the offer is reasonable but when someone offers 1000.00 for a 7000.00 tree its just annoying and makes me not want to budge. Just yesterday I sold a 5 figure tree that we spent a half hour on negotiating the price of, but it was done with respect to me and the tree and we were both satisfied with the outcome.
It gets annoying when people come in and just make unreasonable offers or act like you have to give them a discount.
Bottom line do it with some respect and I doubt anyone reasonable would mind.

Bob Pressler
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Re: Are Bonsai Prices Negotiable?

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