Haggaling on kayak price

Picture this…kayak shops all over MD. Kayaks that have been sitting on the dealer’s floor for months/years. Boats have thick layers of dust on them. Dealer does not keep boat stored in proper storage (aka leaving flat on the floor).

Dealer still wants top buck for the boats and gets pissed when you start to haggle.

Dealer employee shows you the door. Customer wonders how in the @#$% dealer stays in business and thanks God for being able to buy kayaks online.

I am noticing that most dealers are staying right with the MSRP. Anyone know what the average mark up on a plastic kayak is these days?

Not much
plus if the boat as been around a while, he has interest tied up in his cost. You don’t think he doesn’t finance his inventory do you? car dealers do.

Petroleum costs have
a rather dramatic effect on plastic products.


Not enough
The average price of a kayak isn’t enough for a good dealer to earn a decent living, IMO. It is more important for me to build a good relationship with my paddle stores than to haggle them down out of business. I get a lot of service from them and that is worth something. Think how much time they spend getting you in the right boat, or getting the right paddle, or whatever. I have made inquiries as to whether the price of a not-new boat was firm but backed off right away when they explained that they were already taking a loss on it.

Look at it this way, since the price is firm, you have it easy – buy where you get the best service.

If you’ve been around these boards …

– Last Updated: May-18-06 11:32 PM EST –

... a while, you know that small paddle shops all over the place have been going under. Profit margins on paddlecraft are pretty slim. I'm sure that particular dealer thinks he's doing what's best for his business, and I'd bet he's doing it the way MOST dealers do. In case you didn't know, it's really up to the dealer whether or not you can haggle over prices, not you. Though I haven't been to a great many paddler shops personally, I've never seen any indication that bickering over the price could be considered remotely "normal" (I've never even heard of it being done, though a dealer might give you a break on a carry-yoke or something at the time you buy the boat), though maybe I haven't been around enough to know. Do you try to bicker-down the price when you buy stuff that's been on the shelf forever at a big-box store? How about the boat you buy on-line - you gonna argue about the price with those guys too? Really, if you don't like the price, don't shop there. You say yourself there are kayak shops all over.

haggle on multiple accessories, not boat
If you want to haggle on price, try it on a full outfit, not just a boat. Although competent, informed canoe and kayak dealers are getting scarcer by the year in central NC, one thing I can say from getting lots of quotes on several different boats, is that the dealers are much more likely to cut a deal on a package that includes accessories like paddle, spray skirt, PFD, etc. than they are on just a boat. And if you talk to the managers/owners, don’t assume that you have to constrain yourself to the entry-level package deals that they might put out on their webpages. You might not get the bargain basement deal that you’d like, but I pretty quickly had a quote on a mid-level kayak, with deeply discounted, top of the line Tempo PFD and $85 implosion proof spray skirt tossed in for what amounted to free. They may not make much on boats, themselves, but they may be willing to do a significant package deal if you’re talking about relieving them of several bits of inventory by buying a complete setup. Just a thought. My theory is that most of these shops make their money on accessories and non-paddling stuff. From a business standpoint, the boats are just an inventory hog that sinks time and space to get you in the store to buy the other stuff. Work with them on the items that they can actually profit by discounting a little.

Of course, there’s also the prospect of buying used from individual sales, and thus REALLY saving some bucks if you can find just what you want.

Go used.
Look for a boat on Craigs List and “Haggal” away.

Might find a deal on a spell checker too!

laughed out loud at that one.
Spell checker, spell checker, ah, here they are, hmmm…not as cheep as a thawght theyed bee.

thanks God

I suggest you shop online and don’t bother the store.

I haggled $60 off of a canoe
A couple years ago I bought an Old Town Pack canoe from a chain sporting goods store. They had just gotten the canoe in a week earlier but had let it sit outside in front of the store on the sidewalk. The rough texture of the sidewalk had put small scratches in a couple places on the bottom of the boat. I told the salesman “Why would I pay new price for a boat that looks used? If I wanted a scratched canoe, I would buy a used one.” the manager knocked 10%($60) off for me and said that was the best he could do without cutting into his cost. I dont know if thats true or not. I do know that the first time I got in it, I put three times more scratches in it than it had at the store.

Ive never tried to haggle on a new boat before but I thought Id give it a shot. If you feel the need, look for scratches and dings .

Best Price = PreOwned.
do your homework. Figure out which boat you want and look for a preowned. So many folks buy boats only to find that is was passing whim… Used boats is where you can find deals from 25-50% off.

Some dealers I don’t care about. Some I like so I don’t nickel and dime them to death since they are resources for local paddlers.


I chose to buy my boats on-line and direct from the manufacturer. There was no muddy water in terms of a secondary margin or what was included or not.

On the other hand, paddling service and knowledge are very valuble to me. I buy a lot of my accesories and all of my pro instruction from the local paddle shop. I would like to see them continue to do well and I am happy to spend my money there knowing that paddling support is available through them when needed.

Happy Paddling,


haggling + kayak= oxymoron?
Perhaps it is just me, but I would find it rather difficult to pursue any kayak-related activity that lead me away from serenity/fun and towards haggling/stress. I paddle for the fun of it, the serenity it provides, to hang out with others or to go solo at 6:30 a.m. to hang out with the heron on found at our local river. I know we all paddle for different AND similar reason…but…haggling? I would suggest if you really want to haggle, purchase a kayak in Tijuana where it is expected.

I read a few of your other posts. Like others, I would encourage you to take a few lessons, rent a number of different boats, go and enjoy many Demo Days and meanwhile look for used boats if you want to keep the $ down as I wanted to. Or…perhaps you may consider building your own boat (like I have).

Whatever…welcome to the sport and enjoy…


At least one of our local paddle shops has offered a 10% discount on boats that are pre-ordered. This way, they don’t have to have their money tied up in stock, and the customer gets exactly what he/she wants. If you know what you want, approach your dealer in fall and ask if you could pay cash for a boat that would come in in early spring.

I suspect the 10% discount really does not make them much if any profit. It does bring back business, though. Selling fleece and gore-tex looks like a more lucrative business.

Go used if you want to haggle
Those little paddle shops are great to have around. Try getting decent kayaking/canoeing gear/experience/advice at a big box store. I am happy to pay full price for good gear that will last, though I did get an 05 model Liquidlogic Pisgah 15% off this winter. Good designs don’t need annual updates. Don’t expect a discount in spring.

Thanks to Lee’s in Kalamazoo, MI and Outpost in Holland, MI for being there in a world of MC’s and Sam’s Clubs

a year ago
I was looking at a brand new WS Tempest 165, plastic. MSRP was ~1500 ( do not remember exact number), dealer was willing to part for 900 - end of season, etc.

Any price is an agreement between buyer and seller. If you do not agree on the price, you don’t have to buy.

I see nothing wrong with
making the dealer an offer on something and if the offer is not accepted, so be it. However, “haggling” seems to suggest a LOT of back-and-forth verbal exchanges, and that’s not appropriate if the dealer (or individual selling a used boat) has already indicated they’re not willing to deal.

I’ve sold kayaks and listed the price as “firm” (read: don’t offer me less) and STILL I get offered less… usually AFTER I’ve hauled the kayak to another county for them to test paddle, etc. Ticks me off. Firm means firm.

Granted, dealers may have a tough time making a profit. That’s still no reason to pay more than you think a boat is worth.

On the other hand, there’s the loyalty factor. A certain local dealer had a boat I wanted priced at $920. I saw it online for $600 (with shipping it would have been $775, and no tax). I knew the local dealer had had the boat for a year or so. I told him what I found online and said I’d be willing to go a bit more since I’d rather support his shop - said I would be willing to go $800 plus tax. After some calculations, he called me back and said "How does $730 sound? With tax it would be $777.) Why he went BELOW what I offered, I’ll never know, but I jumped at it. I will do business with him again, even if I perceive that I could get a slightly better deal somewhere else, and I’ll refer people to him. I tend to be loyal that way.

I got tossed out of a store…
When I was just getting into it, I went to a local store, and inquired about kayak on display. It had no price tag on it. When I inquired about how much it sold for, the guy only said “it lists for …” I then said “what’s it selling for?” He says “make me an offer”. I then said “I can spend this much [x amount]”. He must have misunderstood what I said, because instead of saying “Well, in that case…let me show you these other models”…he walked right to the door, opened it, and said “GET OUT!”

I nearly fell over. Three boats and lots of equipment later…I won’t touch that place with a barge pole and laugh like hell every time I drive by the guys shop.


brings a large degree of rationality to this thread.

I agree that “haggling” over a product that nets a dealer a 30% margin is not…civilized. Of course, the dealer may be open to an offer at season’s end, or on a boat that has been sitting for a while. Better to ask for consideration on accessories. For instance, BMO offers a 10% discount on all accessories bought at the time of a boat purchase.

To me, haggling implies negotiating at a mid-east street market.

I have not seen any shop owners flaunting their big, expensive vehicles, or living flashy lifestyles. The profit just is not there.


ego strokes
don’t you love it when the businessman driving up in a $50,000 car haggles over sale, gets the extra $100 or $200 discount, gets your assistance putting the roof rack on then tries to make you feel good about doing business with him.