The Ten-Buck Trick: A Foolproof Way to Have Customers Excited to Hand You Their Money

The key to increased sales isn’t a magical formula or the smoothest talking sales associate. The key is science… It is understanding consumer psychology and using it to your best advantage. To help you understand this, we’re sharing with you the “The Ten-Buck Trick.” No 3-card Monte or loaded dice required… Just your wonderful merchandise, your fabulous customers and a table.

Imagine yourself in this situation… You are in a store and you see a table that is marked SALE.  You want to save a buck as much as anyone so you head in that direction.  As you approach it, you start evaluating the items to see if any will fit a need that you have or appeal to you.  You are evaluating each item based on its characteristics and your need.

For example, you might be thinking, “My sister’s birthday is coming up next month.  Is there anything here she would like?”  You examine each item with a critical eye.  If one seems appropriate, you pick it up and look at the price.  The first thing you do is look at the original price.  “WHEW, Really?  People actually bought this at that price?” you might think.  Then you look at the sale price.

That is THE moment.

Do you believe that the item has enough value to be worth the amount of money it is priced at right now?  If yes, then you will buy it.  But often you might find yourself questioning, “Hmm, I don’t know if it is worth this? Will it be marked down again?  When?  Should I just come back?”  Also, because it has been marked down, you will inspect it closely to look for any real or imagined flaws that might have justified the marked down price.

You are actually looking for reasons NOT to buy it.

All of this happens in an instant in your brain.  Often, you put the item down and say to yourself, “Well, I will keep this in mind and come back.”  And of course, you never do.  Customers don’t ever come back, do they?!

Want to learn a better way?!  Of course you do!

Let’s set the scene again.

You are walking into a store and remember that your sister’s birthday is next month.  There is a table with a hodge-podge of merchandise on it and a big sign announcing “$10 All ITEMS $10”.

What do you immediately think?

“I have 10 bucks. That’s not much.  Let’s see what I can spend it on. What looks interesting?”  This represents an entirely different thought process from the one outlined above.

Here you are actually ANTICIPATING spending the money. 

You are already thinking about purchasing an item as you approach the table.  There isn’t the same hyper-critical mindset.

Of course, you will still evaluate each item to see if it meets your needs.  But suddenly, you are automatically much more open to more needs being filled – because you have the $10 in your pocket and you have already given yourself permission to spend it. You’re excited about spending it, and you’re anticipating a great deal!

So which response would you rather get?  Which way would you rather present your sale inventory to customers? Which way do you think generates more sales?  You should aim to have customers WANTING to anticipate buying items – and then all you have to do is provide an exceptional experience!


Cathy Donovan Wagner, The Retail Maven, is the founder of RETAILMavens and works with specialty, independent store owners to help them explode their profit, get better results, have more fun and get better sleep. She offers private consulting as well as group programs such as Cathy is also a Retail Minded Advisor and contributes regularly to You can contact Cathy directly at 



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