We’re not big on bringing home lots of little chochkies from places we’ve visited, but tend to focus on meaningful items that come from local artisans and aren’t mass produced such as artwork, jewelry, leather goods, etc. The best place to find these little gems is at the local markets. Since it isn’t an everyday part of American culture, some travelers are unsure how to negotiate at these world markets.
Some cultures consider it rude if you don’t try to negotiate. Haggling is expected in markets in Latin America, Africa, Asia, and even Europe. Not negotiating a price is seen as economic arrogance or snobbishness. Make sure to look up online or in a guidebook what is acceptable in the area you are traveling before you go.
Though each country may be different in their approach to haggling, here are a few general tips to help you get the best price.
How To Negotiate at World Markets
Do Your Research
If you have your heart set on a specific item, don’t just buy it at the first stall you come upon. Do a lap or two around the market to make sure you don’t see that item at another stall that you like better. And if you do see it at other stalls, ask what the price is. You can then use this knowledge to appropriately negotiate with the vendor you choose.
Don’t Show Too Much Excitement
If you walk up to a stall and find something you like, and say, “Wow! This is incredible!”, the vendor knows they have the upper hand when negotiating and may not feel the need to negotiate the price. You can indicate your interest in an item by asking about how it is made or where the materials are from, and of course, the price.
Do Take Your Time
The art of haggling is not a fast process. Honestly, it is more theatrical than anything else. First, ask the vendor how much they are asking for the item. Second, act a bit shocked by the price and make your offer. If the vendor doesn’t accept your offer, put the item down and act disinterested or even start walking away. Most likely, the vendor will then provide another offer, lower than their first price. Or if not, keep walking – you can always come back later either after you’ve finished your other shopping or, in some countries, it is customary to come back even a full day later to continue the negotiations. You do risk the item being purchased by someone else, but that’s all part of the game.
Don’t Be A Push Over
Always remember that you are never obligated to purchase something. If the vendor acts insulted by your offer, it is most likely an act to get you to come up in price (but make sure you are making a fair offer – don’t ask $5 for a leather jacket). You can always walk away from the negotiation. Though, if you do negotiate to an agreed upon price, you need to buy it.
Do Learn The Language
You certainly don’t need to be fluent in another language when shopping in markets, but knowing how to ask how much something is in the local language, as well as a few pleasantries such as “hello” and “thank you”, can go a long way. It helps break the ice with a vendor and starts your negotiations on a friendly foot.
Now that you have a better idea of how to negoiate in the markets of the world – go out and test your skills! You’ll find the more you do it, the better you get at it – and the more fun you have! Happy haggling!