The Art and Skill of Trading

Itís not ĎThe Price of the Item" ; but How you play the Game !

The Twelve Most Important Rules of Trading !

( In Order of Importance )

  1. Never Pay The "Price"!
  2. "A Deal ; Is A Deal , and Cannot Be Broken !"
  3. Anything you Have , Make , Do or Acquire ;Can be Traded.
  4. Never accept the First Offer .
  5. Never buy on the "First Day" (Visit , session).
  6. "Never Give Up !" "Always Make the Offer Twice !"
  7. Your Word is Your Bond ! , Make Sure Itís Always Good !!
  8. A "Good Deal" Should be "Good" for "Everyone"!!
  9. "You Can Always Find A Better One !"
  10. If someone asks to "Trade" "Always Make The Deal !"
  11. Never be "Afraid" To make a Trade !!
  12. The Best Deals , Make the Best Friends and
The Best Friends make the Best Deals !!

Welcome Everyone To This Article on

"Becoming a Merchant Trader!"

In this article I hope to impart to you most of my knowledge on trading and making "deals" as well as making friends. In Montana I grew up making "Deals" and "Trades". So when I began to attend Ren-Fairs and craft shows , it was only natural that I would continue to trade with people .

I am very good at trading and really enjoy a good trade with someone who is also skilled in "The Game" For those who have traded for many years , this is what it is "A Game" . It is one in which The "Real Players" , know most of the rules" and if you donít play the game or donít know how it works , "The Players" donít play with you .

Over the years , many people have asked me " James , How do you get such good deals" my answer is " I barter and Trade with people." Of course their next question is " How do you do that ?" To answer that question , I am writing this article , The most important things in trading are listed in the rules above , if you remember nothing else , remember these rules ! They are the "Life Blood" of Trading . They are basic rules which everyone should follow , but not everyone does. Print them out , memorize them , and they will guide you well .

Here in the "Body" of this article , I will break down and explain each and everyone of these rules and why they are important . I hope to meet you all on the "Trading Field" some day .

Rule #1: As I "work" through these rules I will give you examples and stories to illustrate the "worth" and the reasoning behind these rules. The first rule in trading is , "Never Pay the Price!" ; let me repeat that "Never Pay the Price!" read that again and again until you "Always remember it!"

All good merchants set their prices a little higher than what they will actually take for the item . So if you are trading with someone , never make your best offer first . Start low , you can always go up (In other words offer less than you are actually willing to pay for the item) ; and who knows they might go for your first offer. The business of merchanting or trading is "Offer and Counter Offer".

As I said before "Never Pay The Price !" I canít repeat this enough ! Always remind yourself of this , especially if you are tempted to pay the price. I do this myself all the time . The person who doesnít pay the price , wins the game . So no matter how little it is "Always Find a way to get something off the Price !"If it comes down to it , say this " Surely weíre not going to quibble over a dollar or two ; are we ?" The point here , as I have said before , is to ĎNever pay the Asking Price " and to always remember that ! There are exceptions to the rule and we will cover them later , but I always keep this one in mind especially if I find myself making one of those exceptions.

The second rule is "A Deal is A Deal !" This rule is as important or maybe even more so than the first one , because it is a "Given rule of conduct". This rule is both "Right and Legal" . It is expected to be understood by everyone . When you are making a Deal , it is an "Oral Contract" Once a Deal is made , it can not be changed with out the mutual co-operation and consent of both the parties . If one party should disagree on any changes ; "The Contract Stands as Originally Agreed Upon !" To violate an oral contract is punishable by law in most states , but the more important thing here is "Your word is you Bond" and if you violate it , you will ruin your relationship with the merchant and word will get around that you can not be trusted to keep your part of the deal . Many people get themselves into trouble early in their trading because they donít realize that this rule is not only "Right" ; but a Legal obligation . There is nothing that makes people more angry than someone who tries to "Change the Rules of the game in the middle".

There are two types of people I will not trade with ; The first, is one who wonít play the game and the second is someone who doesnít abide by the lawful rules. Here are two examples : First ; You ask a merchant "What kind of a Deal will you make me?" Their reply is "The Price is the Price and I wonít change it !"This person doesnít know how to make a sale and I wonít deal with them ! The other is a person who says " Well I donít like the deal so Iím going to change it !" this behavior always occurs after you have completed your half of the bargain . The people who do this always insist that they have been treated unfairly even though it was they who originally made the deal or the agreement. So in other words "They Screw you !"If they have actually completed their half of the deal I will always insist that they adhere to the original agreement or I have no further dealings with them. Finally ; if you feel you have been treated unfairly ; "Donít make that type of deal again". You learn by doing and sometimes you make a "Bad Deal" but thatís the way it is and your word is your bond !

The Third rule is Anything you Have , Make , Do or Acquire ;Can be Traded. People always say to me "What can I do? ; I have nothing to trade ; I have no skills" People discount their own worth . They donít realize ; that everything can be traded ( And I do mean "Everything") The exception to this rule is "Not all things can be traded to all People" The point is , if you walk , talk and breath ; you have something to trade. The "Trick" is finding the right item to trade to the right person

Iíll give some examples here of things that I have either traded myself or seen traded . Performing arts ; such as juggling or singing . Child Care , Meals , any item you can make , find or acquire (Deer antlers work well in some cases), rocks , gems , costumes, chairs , tables , tents, honey , wax , rootbeer , recipes , knowledge , services , camping space , goods to be produced and delivered in the future , a song , an acting performance , teaching a class , running errands . The list goes on and on . The point is "Always examine all your options !" If one trade item doesnít work ; try another one and keep trying ! Iíve tried as many as five or six items before I found one I could trade to someone . So make a list of the things you could trade or do ; and keep it in mind .

Never accept the First Offer . This rule is very important in either buying or selling . In almost all cases there should be three or four offers and counter offers in making a deal . ( The exceptions are in deals with friends or deals you have made before ; in these dealings you may already have a standard agreement , which may only need to be changed occasionally) The reason you never accept the first offer is simple . If you are a good player ; you know that this is not the best offer that you will get ; you also know to start lower than what you will pay . Both the buyer and the seller should know this ; for this is the way the game is played and it can be very enjoyable . In a way it is like a joke shared between two adversaries. You know that I know and I know that You know . Hence the enjoyment of the game.

Rule # 5 Never buy on the "First Day" (Visit , session). The skilled "Player" knows that the price of an item is very likely to vary depending on how much a merchant has sold. There are two things that are very likely to lower the price of an item and both of these depend on time. First ; thereís an old saying "The price depends on how hungry the merchant gets". In other words if a merchant has been at an event for several days and not sold very much they will tend to "want to sell something" much more than usual , so the price will probably be lower near the end of an event . The other case is if the merchant has really done "well" at an event . They then tend to be complacent (or content) and may sell for less on a "lark or whim" (especially if they like you , feel sorry for you , or they are just enjoying the game.)

Rule #6 "Never Give Up !" "Always Make the Offer Twice !" If youíve reached your final offer ; repeat it ! If the answer is still No , explain to the merchant why you feel you can not go any higher ; be honest , most merchants appreciate that . Offer a future , unspecified , intangible service ; such as: "Iíll owe you one !" or "Iíll do something for you in the future." If they still say "No" , keep coming back , keep trying . as time goes by the price you offer may become more appealing . ( especially if itís the last day of an event.) Try not to be offensive and donít make the offer every two minutes. Just drop by once or maybe twice a day , make a little joke about it and laugh a bit . Something like "Hey ! Have you reconsidered that offer yet ?!" If all else fails , raise your price a little on the last day . If you lose the item ( Someone else buys it) , just say to yourself "Thereís a better one out there !" or "I guess it wasnít meant to be"

Okay , weíre half way through this article and you may notice that Iím not really telling you how to trade an item , or what to trade . Thereís a very good reason for that and the reason is that trading is money , and no-one can really tell you what kind of money to spend or how much of it to spend .

I really canít tell you what to trade , because each merchant will want different types of items . My suggestion to you is to have many trade items and skills on your "List of trade Items". (If I didnít mention this before , sit down and make a list of all the things that you could possibly trade, keep it handy ; memorize it and add to it !) In this manner you will probably have an item or items that a merchant may be interested in , what ever you do , "Never give up !" If you canít do business with one merchant ; try another.

Rule # 7Your Word is Your Bond ! , Make Sure Itís Always Good !! If you make a Deal ; make sure you adhere to it !In order to be a success at trading , you must be trust worthy , many times your trust worthiness will need to be "Vouched For" by another person . If you are just beginning to trade you may have to try and convince a merchant to trust you . If you manage to do it , make sure you donít fail them .

As I said before ; "Your Word is your Bond!" it is an old concept but absolutely essential in trading . It bares repeating " A Deal is a Deal !" It is crucial and essential that you have "Ethics , and Integrity as well as reliability" if you want to be a trader.

Rule #8 A "Good Deal" Should be "Good" for "Everyone"!! If you "Play the Game" well ; everyone should come out a winner. In other words when you finish your trade ; both you and the person you traded with should both feel like you got a "Good ; or even a Great Deal" ( I have made trades in the past where I was "Shocked" at the deal I got because it was so "Great" and because the person didnít realize what I was willing to offer and I didnít realize what he was willing to accept. In the end he got exactly what he wanted , and I felt I had gotten what I wanted for nothing." Hereís the story : A merchant wanted some horns ; specifically Antelope horn ; now since I am a hunter and I grew up with a hunting family , I usually have at least a set or two of horns around . He on the other hand had a beautiful hand made knife ; easily worth a hundred dollars . ( I wanted that knife badly ; I use it around my camp all the time) So in negotiating with him , I asked him what he would take in trade . He said he need some horns . Well in addition to hunting I also trade for horns . So I had about ten sets and in particular one set of "nice" (About ten to twelve inches high) Antelope horns . He had expressed an interest in horns in general , so I brought All the horns I had . ( the normal trade price on horns is ten to twenty dollars a set. ) My thought was if I traded them all and had to add a few dollars , I would have gotten a "Deal"

He looked the horns over and said these are "Great" and picked out the Antelope horns and handed me the knife , saying "These are just what I needed ." and then he handed me back the rest of the pile of horns . I was astounded , I had really expected him to keep them all . To me this was a "Super Deal" , One set of Antelope horns in exchange for a costume, hand made, knife . He was equally ecstatic , as he wandered off mumbling "These are ĎGreatí just what I needed !" I was happy , he was happy ! (You should always set a tentative trade value so that if you talk to a merchant that wants to know your trade value , and refuses to do business any other way ; you can tell him and feel confident about your answer.)

Rule #9"You Can Always Find A Better One ! Never become so obsessed with an item so that you believe that it is the "Best you can find and there canít be a better one !" If you believe " I must have it!" ; youíve already lost the game. Remember "Itís not the price of the item ; but the game !" If you must have the item ; make your best offer and then accept the merchants best offer ; no matter what it is ! Pay the Price and be Happy with it !

But if you remember there may always be a better one out there you will be much more likely to get a better price . However the danger on waiting on an item ; if it is truly unique ;is that someone else may want it as much or more than you do ; and it may be gone.

Rule# 10If someone asks to "Trade" "Always Make The Deal !" Over the years , as my reputation has grown and spread , I have found many people wanting to make a trade with me . Iíve always practiced this one philosophy ; "Always Make The Deal!" Even if I was not interested in what the person had to offer , I made the Deal . "Why?" you might ask . Here I would offer an explanation first and then a story .

There are many reasons for this philosophy . First , if the person really wants to trade with you , then it means something very special to them and if I am able , I like to make people feel "Special". Second if you make a trade with someone for something you donít want or need , you can always give it to a friend as a gift and make two people feel special ( Sometimes more).

I have done this many times in the past and made wonderful friendships and great deals this way . The story I am about to tell you is probably the best deal I ever made , I was sitting in the booth of a friend who had made a trade with me in the past . We had been drinking and he said to me , "James , Iíve got a friend who really wants to meet you ; he wants to do a trade with you ." Well my first question was "What does he have to trade ?"

He told me "Wooden combs" ; my reply was " What would I ever do with such things ?" I continued ; well it doesnít matter , tell him Iíll make the deal with him .

We made the deal and I gave a couple of those combs to two of my female House members ; They loved them ! You would not believe the joy they got from this simple gift . I ; being a man ; did not really understand it , but they showered me with praise and hugs ; it was wonderful ! Over the years Ric the Comb maker and I have become very fast friends ; I have made deals with him to acquire a comb for "Every" female member of my House and the response is always the same "What a Great gift!" "James we Love You !" ( If you want to be adored by your women folk get them one of Ricís combs [see the products page or the link]) Trust me youíll never make a better investment.

Rule # 11Never be "Afraid" To make a Trade !! I truly believe that fear is the thing that is most likely to stop us from doing anything . Over the years I have made hundreds of Deals and sometimes ( Even now) it scares me a little . Sometimes I think my work wonít be good enough or maybe they just wonít want it and sometimes that happens and once in a great while I just canít find a trade item to make the deal with , or for one reason or another the deal falls through . Sometimes I find people who just have no "Merchanting Sense" . But mostly I find people eager to make a Trade ; as long as they know I have something they want . Many times I am accosted while walking through merchant row by people I do not know . Many times my friends are walking in front of me and spreading the word that I am near .

Donít let fear control your life . Do what you want to do . Print out the twelve rules above and read them over and over until you remember them . Read them until you make them a part of yourself ! Then use them to get what you want. Remember too , that the people you want to trade with are just like you and they have to make a living too. Make sure your deals are fair .

So finally ; here we are at the end of this article . We have only one rule left and I think I have illustrated it throughout this article. Still Iíll make a few comments here.

Rule # 12The Best Deals , Make the Best Friends and

The Best Friends make the Best Deals !!

As Iíve said before when you make a good deal everyone involved should feel good about it ! When this happens the people involved will probably become your friends , at the very least they will look forward to seeing you again because they will feel that you dealt with them fairly and they will be even more inclined to make you a better deal in the future. Merchants want to keep their good customers . Never; Never ;Never Press a Deal that will make a merchant feel like you have wronged them !

There are times when you may be able to "Bully" a merchant into accepting a deal which is not good for them , but in the long run you hurt yourself and you may cause a merchant not to return in the future. By Badgering a merchant you may get your way , but they will never want to see you again , and in the future they will either avoid you or simply tell you a much higher price so that you donít get the best of them . When you find they have given you a price twice as high as anyone else ; youíll be the one to feel angry and betrayed.

Hereís a Free one "Always Keep Your Merchant Friends Happy and Theyíll Always Keep You Happy!"

At Sometime in your trading career , you may find that many of your merchant friends , are such good friends , That the game changes and becomes not merchant and customer but just friends . Now itís "What can I do for you my Friend ?!" and you always get the "Best Price" and itís always a "Deal you can Live with !" These are friends youíll be willing to give back to . Youíll sit with your friends in their booths and youíll meet their friends and someday theyíll say " Hey ! Iíve got someone who wants to do a deal with you !" and what will you say ? Remember what I say ! "Make the Deal !!!"

I Hope you have enjoyed this article ; Itís the best advice I can give you on trading and Iím one of the best , No ; you donít have to believe me ; ask anybody ; better yet ; read the article again and youíll know . If youíve really enjoyed this article and want to know more , See the House Dragon booklet "House Dragon Rules of Trade." By James The Wise . There are another Eighty-Nine rules in the booklet along with examples and explanations , If you truly want to become a Master Trader ; read the book .

I hope this helps you all to become traders ; to make those "Great Once in a Lifetime Trades" and to find and make the friends that I have while you acquire all the things you desire .



Merchant Trader

James The Wise