How to Get a Bargain on Your Vacation Souvenirs
By Gloria Hanson, Senior Cruise Consultant, The Cruise Web, Inc.
Black Friday is the day to get the best deals in America, but overseas you have an opportunity to get great bargains on authentic local products at markets and bazaars every day. But you have to be prepared to negotiate.
I love to find a good deal, and whether I’m at home or far, far away on a vacation, I’ve always got my eye out for a bargain. If you can go toe-to-toe with a shop owner negotiating on a cherished souvenir, you not only come away with a great purchase, but a great story to tell when you get home.
Without further ado, here are my best tips from years of experience:
- Be observant. Of course haggling for a price isn’t always welcome in every place. In open air markets, bazaars and many small “mom and pop” type shops, negotiating is par for the course, but like in America, department stores, grocery stores and larger chain stores aren’t usually flexible on their prices. See how the sales people are interacting with other customers if you are unsure.
- Don’t linger. Many people have a tendency to go into a shop or visit an artist’s stall at a local craft fair and rave over the merchandise, picking it up and ogling. Touching or staring at the merchandise is a clue to the seller that you want that item and you are willing to pay for it. You have to have a poker face. If you aren’t that interested, don’t stop. Some shop keepers won’t let you out of their sight if they think they can get something out of you.
- Stay focused. In Turkey, especially in the rug shops, they will offer you alcohol and other beverages. They will offer you a seat and ask you about your family. They will try to woo you to distract you. Don’t get lost in their conversation, they are looking to make a good profit on your purchase, so have your wits about you.
- Have local currency. Don’t have big bills, but have at least $10 worth of the local currency. That way if you are feeling pressured you can tell them you only have so much money. Sometimes if they see you don’t have a lot of money they will lower their rates.
- Start low. Let them lead the conversation about money and you counter with a lower price. Even in China, where the merchants didn’t speak English, they whipped out their calculators showing their suggested price. I countered with a much lower price and after a few rounds of negotiations I walked away with some beautiful jade trinkets at more than half the price the merchant originally offered.
- Be willing to let go. I believe that if the shop owner doesn’t lower their price after two tries at negotiating then they have come to their bottom price and you must walk away. Sometimes they will chase after you and give you the deal, but sometimes they won’t. You have to be willing to lose your item if they don’t chase after you.
After an afternoon or morning negotiating, when all is said and done, you can feel proud of yourself for getting a bargain and participating in the local culture.
Do you have any tips about haggling on a price in a foreign country or an interesting experience? All your stories and advice are welcome in our comments section.