As I browsed Christmas trees this past holiday season, I decided to finally deploy the tactics I'd seen my own father—and the father from A Christmas Story—use at the lot. I balked. I sighed. I cried austerity. I almost actually cried. I pretended to leave. And finally, the Douglas Fir salesman caved and Christmas was saved—by a fat 30 percent.
Since then, I've been obsessed with the concept of haggling. Can we haggle at major chains? Are the tyrannical prices, laid on items by some unseen executive in an ivory tower, really cast in stone? Will "mom-and-pop" stores at least still barter? I took to the streets to determine how, where, and when you can get stores/vendors to lower their prices. I won't lie—it wasn't easy. But, as I found, after 24 hours and some very threatening gestures, it is certainly not impossible.