Whether it is buying spices in Marrakech, carpets in Istanbul, tea in Kathmandu or leather goods in Florence, a fair price can be found with a little haggling. To be honest, I have not always haggled. Sometimes the prices are quite fair and to bargain for a lower price feels like I am robbing the vendor. Nonetheless vendors expect you to bargain and it is worth it to try to get the best deal for souvenirs of your journeys.
Here are some things to remember when shopping in the world markets…
• Stroll along– Take your time while shopping and do not feel obligated. Check out all the stands and shops. Many vendors carry the same or similar items. See who has the best selection, quality and price.
• Walk away– Do not look as if your trip will be ruined if you do not purchase the item. Instead, look indifferent as if you can take it or leave it. Be ready to walk away.
• Determine worth– Decide how much you are willing to pay before you start the bargaining process. Having cash on hand can sometimes insure a better price.
• Be friendly– Bargaining is a cultural interaction as well as shopping experience. Being friendly is courteous and could also be advantageous to the price.
• Let the haggling begin– The vendor should be the first to suggest a price. Counter offer with a price you feel comfortable with, but also does not insult the vendor. A good rule of thumb is offer half as much as he offered. A happy medium can usually be met. Worried about a language barrier? English is spoken in most markets, but if not, vendors also communicate by using a calculator or the old-fashioned pen and paper.
• Exude confidence– No matter what your bargaining skill level is, be confident that you can get the price you want by being confident in your haggling abilities.
• Borders & Customs– Know what is allowed to be taken out of a country and what is allowed to be brought into your own.
• Buy it– Once you and the vendor have settled on a good price then purchase the item. It is insulting to the vendor to go through all that and then not buy it.
I find it hard to resist these colorful marketplaces so I make sure I leave room in my suitcase to bring my treasures home.