If you're not familiar with it, “Down East Dickering” is a show that premiered on the History channel during late spring. It is, in my humble opinion, the best thing that has ever happened. I'm officially in love with narrator and dickerer Tony Bennet, and his adorable dog, Duke. “Down East Dickering” takes place in Maine, and follows several groups of men who make their livings by bartering and dickering, using their wits, talents, and Uncle Henry's, a weekly publication where people place ads because they need to buy something, sell something, get something done, and so on. It's a new breed of reality show, filled with colorful characters and a surprising number of lessons to learn.
One of the many things you learn from “Down East Dickering” is that everyone has a price. Sellers have an amount they really want to get, a spot where they're loathe to go any lower. Buyers have a set amount to spend, and they're loathe to go any higher. As a dickerer, it's your job to find the sweet spot – but if you're good at what you do, you can always best someone.
Okay, not everything. However, if someone's selling a bunch of stuff and something catches your eye, the odds are good that you can get it. You just have to refer back to point #1, and find out what the price is. This doesn't extend to heirlooms and items of important personal significance, but if you're out buying a truck from someone and you see a tractor you'd love to have too, it never hurts to ask.
If you want to see a good dickerer in action, watch Turtle. He's a cantankerous old man, but he's good at what he does. He knows the trick to good dickering: if you're selling something, you always ask for sky-high price. Tony and Codfish know this lesson too, as evidenced in the finale, when they really cleaned up. If you start high, then by the time you dicker down to the price you really want (see point #1 again), it will seem like a bargain. If you're the buyer, of course, you start low – not so low that your offer is an insult, but low enough that when you get up to your sweet spot, it seems like you're really making a sacrifice.
The men of “Down East Dickering” keep their friends close, because everyone relies on each other in these communities. Tony has a buddy who can knock down buildings, pull stumps, and things like that. Clint, Nate, and Bruce rely on each other for help. Mitch and Yummy are always helping each other out, and Turtle's good friends with just about everyone, because he knows he can dicker for their services when he needs them.
You can act like you need your friends, but never act like you need the thing you're buying. Desperation has a scent like no other, and a good dickerer will sniff it out every time. When you're needful, you're going to pay for the privilege, so make sure you keep your poker face.
Use your talents! You can easily barter your skills, and by doing so you'll either get what you want at no cost or you may even make a profit. Whether you're great at roofing, digging, or fixing up old motors, there's something you can do that someone else needs. Make your talents work for you.
Sometimes you just have to walk away from a dicker – especially when you're going up against down east Yankees. They will take you to school and make you walk home – usually with a much lighter wallet. These other lessons will stand you in good stead, but sometimes you find an impossible deal, and it's best to walk away before you do something foolish and get the short end of the stick.
“Down East Dickering” became one of my favorite shows within one episode. I'm in love with shows about New England anyway, and when they're as real as this, it's even better. If you haven't seen it, I urge you to watch – if only to see Tony's hair. Is it just me, or does he look a little like Opie on “Sons of Anarchy”? After watching it, I promise you'll be a better bargainer. On a scale of one to Tony, how well do you dicker?
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