How to bargain when shopping at markets – tips that really work

Shopping at flea markets and wholesale markets require more skills than shopping at malls and ‘fixed price’ stores. These shopping experiences also add to the joy of shopping, especially if you enjoy shopping. I learnt a lot of bargaining tips from my aunt, who is an expert! To make the most of markets around the world, here are some tips to get the best value for your money!

Lesson 1: Don’t reveal a price range right away unless you know exactly the kind of value that range will buy. If you’re unsure about what to expect, some vendors will not hesitate to display items of lesser value and sell them at your estimated higher price. Especially when buying from a flea market or wholesale market, ask the vendor to show some items and tell you the price of those items. Once you have an idea of what to expect, you can narrow your search.

Lesson 2: When browsing through items, don’t reveal your top preferences right away. In addition to your preferred items, bargain for a few other items. Vendors might quote a higher price if you reveal your favorite too soon. Feel free to negotiate prices to drive them down further. Sometimes buying several items from a single vendor can encourage them to provide additional discounts. Once you’re convinced that you are not getting cheated, return the favor and don’t cheat the vendor.

Lesson 3: If you see an item you like right away and don’t have time to browse through a whole section, quote a bargain price at half the quoted price. Then scale upwards slowly based on the vendor’s reaction. Even though this is not a set rule, it gives you a comfortable room for bargain. An exception to the rule: Once my aunt had quoted 1/10th of the price listed for an item when we were out shopping one afternoon. I looked at her trying hard to mask my surprise at what seemed like a outrageous bargain. The vendor protested only a little and then accepted the offer with a smile.

Lesson 4: Don’t be afraid to walk away. Most vendors will want some return on the time invested on the customer and more often than not, they will accept your offer as soon as you begin to walk away. If they don’t, chances are that the market offers other alternatives that you can pursue or you can accept the final price quoted by the vendor (it’s okay to let them smirk a little – getting the product that you wanted should make up for it.)

Lesson 5: During payment, since most of these markets prefer cash over cards, don’t pay in large denominations. If the vendor refuses to return exact change, claiming that they doesn’t have any, you could end up paying more than you bargained for.

Lesson 6: Be polite and respectful. People respond favorably to well behaved customers. Be cautious when your vendor is overly polite and respectful or you will respond favorably even to higher prices 🙂

It’s also important to know the the language of the place or have a trusted translator along. Tourists end up paying a little more during shopping anyway but don’t let that discourage you from enjoying the experience.

Do you have other tips? Please share them in the comments below.



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