How to bargain in a market

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Bargaining is all part of the market shopping experience, and if you are not used to it can be a little daunting. Westerners often feel embarrassed or shy to ask, especially if hey feel the price asked is fair anyway. The thing to realize is that bargaining is expected and even wanted. Rule number one is nothing ventured nothing gained, you have nothing to loose by asking. Always ask for a discount.

If takes a bit of acting as you have to fain shock at the price they ask and disinterest in the product. Don’t get all enthusiastic about hat you are buying, as then they know that you will buy it at any price. Fake semi-disinterest, and make to walk away, even point out other stands offering the same products, as if you want to go check their prices first.

In some markets where the vendors don’t speak English they often use a calculator to show you the price they want for the items. In Prague’s  Prazska Trznice  for example, the vendors are mostly Vietnamese, and don’t speak that much English. If you ask for the price of something they will punch in a number to a calculator and show it to you. Make sure you act shocked and say no, no, no, then make as if to walk away. They will call you back and ask you how much you want to pay. Now it is your turn to punch a price into the calculator. Don’t be shy to offer a quarter of the price they proposed. Then the bargaining begins. They will come down in price, don’t give up, I have bought articles for 100 CZK which they asked 450CZK for, and 300CZK when they wanted 1200CZK.

You must also know in markets when not to bargain. If you can see that the price being offered is reasonable, and if it is really peanuts in your money but can feed a family in the country you are in, then don’t be too greedy, and let the vendor eke out his livelihood. Fruit and vegetables as well as most foods are not products that you can bargain a lot with.

If you are buying more than one item from the same stall then go ahead and ask for a discount. A line I have often heard used by buyers is “I’ve bought so much, don’t I get a present? Go on throw in something for free, just to make my day.” When buying two items the second one should always be at least slightly cheaper.

At the end of the day vendors will often be more willing to give you a better deal, so ask as you have nothing to loose. In the Middle East, and some Mediterranean countries it is traditional that the first sale of the day opens the flood gates, or paths the way so to speak for the rest of the day’s business, so if you are the first customer you may get a good deal too.


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