Reading this article by Jane Boon on negotiating down the price for luxury watches reminded me of my trips to China as a kid. When I was younger, we’d visit my relatives in Taiwan once every two or three years. On those trips, we’d often go to various open air markets and street vendors where negotiation was not only expected, it was crucial to the buying process. While I’m not always 100% comfortable with doing it now, I think I really enjoy the dance once I get moving.
My most recent memory was of going to Bermuda and buying a conch from a vendor off the street. The quoted price was $10 a piece for something I knew couldn’t be worth more than a dollar, factoring in labor to find, clean, and polish the conch. Time after time I saw tourist walk up, hear $10, and pull out a ten dollar bill (the kid was selling them beside an open air market, where our friends were wandering). Eventually, I walked up and asked him how much, he said $10, I cringed and said that was too much. Over the next half hour, as I was happily drinking my adult beverage and watching his kid reposition his huge duffel bag of conch shells, the number of tourists passing by had slowed down so I asked the kid if he’d sell me one of the conches for $6. He shook his head. I said $7. He kind paused, then I said I’d buy two for ten (we were with friends) and immediately pulled out the ten dollar bill – he agreed. He went from not being sure whether he wanted to sell it for $7 to selling two for $5 a piece. It was probably one of the highlights of our Bermuda trip (that and wandering into a $500 per person slots “tournament” at Atlantis).
I usually don’t haggle much while in the U.S., unless it’s at a market or for a big ticket item, but it seems like I should. How about you?