Aug 26, 2013

Bartering 101

For those venturing off to foreign and un-ventured territory, the best way of remembering the trip (aside from taking an infinite amount of photos and Instagrams) is leaving the country with an authentic, culturally-rich memento. If we’re really generous, we buy several of these mementos for our friends and loved ones. Let’s face it, a tourist-friendly key-chain sometimes won’t cut it. But culturally authentic artifacts aren't always cheap.

Whether you’re on a tight budget or not, penny pinching -by ways of bartering- is a great way to get the best bang for your buck. Bartering in a foreign country, especially one where English is not the first language, can be a little overwhelming. Here are some ways to ease the pressures and be successful in the art of haggling.

Shop, Shop, Shop
When shopping for unique keepsakes, one might jump quickly at purchasing the first thing they see. While it might be easy to dismiss something as “one of a kind,” rest assured, you’re guaranteed to find something similar, if not better, if not cheaper than what you initially found. Walk away and see what else is out there before making the deal.

Be Alert
Small-town markets get a little overwhelming. With store-owners vouching for your attention and pulling you from all sides and directions, it can get a little hectic! For the most part, bartering is also a mental feat. Tourists have to be mindful of the sights and sounds of the market, let alone be assertive. So it’s best to load up on the java and be alert. If anything, wait until you’re cognizant and well prepared before you barter.

Start Low
Some storefronts have items that have no price tag, meaning the shopkeeper will often set the price or in some cases, ask your paying price. The logic here is to start lower than what you would want to pay. You never know how much the shopkeeper might be expecting. For some they’ll take your paying price.

Don’t act too Interested
Ooh-ing, aah-ing and general admiration of relics might result in higher bids from the shopkeeper. Enthused shoppers = inevitable sale. It’s best to temper excitement to generate potentially lower bids.

Hide your Wallet
This is both a bartering and a security measure. Most store-owners will be mindful that you’re on a budget, and will often bend their prices just for the sale.

Regardless of the situation, remember that bartering should be an act that benefits both the buyer and the owner. Mutual respect should be established for both parties. As a buyer, you should never feel obligated to buy something. Worst case scenarios simply result in you walking away from a sale, and finding something better elsewhere.

Do you have any sure-fire bartering advice? Did you ever experience a bartering nightmare? Sound off here!

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Last modified on : Aug 26, 2013
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