As a first-time haggler, reporter Suzanne Ziegler had luck at one out of three places she tried last week:


Koval's Appliance Store in St. Louis Park steered me to less expensive models when I asked if there was any "wiggle room" on pricing on a large-capacity Whirlpool duet washer ($925) and gas dryer ($986) but did say early on that there was a $100 mail-in rebate. When I asked again if there was a better price on the set, he said their pricing was already the best they could offer and quoted me the recommended retail price, which was indeed higher: $1,199 for the washer; $1,279 for the dryer.


I felt more confident walking into R.F. Moeller Jeweler store in Edina. I looked at a $795 white gold bracelet but said I could not afford that much. The salesperson hinted that sometimes "something could be done." I looked at some less-costly silver bracelets, including one for $450. I asked what that "something" was that could be done. Their initial offer was that they would pay the tax on the $450 bracelet. I pressed, asking if they could do any better. After consulting with the manager, the salesperson said I could have it for 10 percent off but I would have to pay the tax.


Feeling somewhat bold with that behind me, I asked Best Buy in Eden Prairie if they could do any better on a $299.99 Dynex (Best Buy's brand) 26-inch, flat-screen TV. The salesman said if the TV went on sale within 30 days, I could get the difference refunded just by calling in. I pressed him, saying I was interested in buying it that day for the best price and asked if he would consult with a manager. He did and came back with word that the $299.99 was Best Buy's best price and that it could be more at other Best Buy stores. He offered 10 percent off any accessories.


If you have a big purchase coming up, practice on some smaller items ahead of time. I was definitely feeling more empowered by the time I walked into Best Buy. And shop around: I was surprised to learn that prices could vary on the same item at different Best Buy stores. When I called the store the next day, the manager on duty said the item was a "deleted" item, meaning it was on clearance so individual stores have leeway in pricing those items.