I never walk into a store anticipating I’d ask for a discount, but I have become much more aware that many people are amenable to giving you one in the right circumstances.
Priceonomics's Alex Mayyasi takes a contentious stance in his post, "Why Does the Senior Citizen Discount Still Exist?" He says that the idea that senior citizens require financial help stems from high percentage of seniors who were living in poverty after the Great Depression. Federal programs like Social Security and Medicare dramatically decreased that percentage. Mayyasi now says that millennials are being screwed over by the recession and are in a vulnerable place, so maybe they should get a discount. If I made a list of things that probably would never come into existence, a discount for millennials would be on that list.
Before I started working at Whole Foods last December, I was only an occasional shopper. I went in when I needed something specific, like broccoli rabe or gluten-free cupcakes for a friend’s party. I never wanted to buy more than a few items because I didn’t trust myself. Everything in the store seems like such a good idea—organic, all-natural, so good for you—that I kept myself confined to only the essentials out of financial necessity. My secret fear was that I would go into a shopping trance and wake up in the parking lot with half my bank account missing on a week’s worth of groceries. Like many secret fears, it was based on letting out the worst side of myself.
In January, This American Life aired a segment in which reporter Ben Calhoun went to a few stores and tried asking for a "good guy discount" at the register. Here's how Calhoun explained it: A friend of his named Sonari Glinton was interviewing a negotiations expert from Columbia University Business school who described a technique where you ask at the register, "Can I get a good guy discount on that? You're a good guy, I'm a good guy—come on, just, you know, a good guy discount."