Wednesday, July 27, 2005

The Art of Bargaining

...Or: how to buy cheap touristy goods in Dakar, Senegal (basic wood carvings, cloth and sewn cloth (clothing), maskes and etc.).

The problem is that they have no marked price (as for most goods in Senegal). But unlike other goods like bananas, which the vendor will correctly tell you costs 100 cfa ($0.20) for a small one, or oranges for which the vendor will ask 200 cfa ($0.40), or, similarly, a baguette at 150 cfa ($0.30), the vendor will not, on demand, tell you the "correct" price. He -- it is always he -- will give you a price several times the "correct" price, and so you will have to bargain the price down.

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Anonymous Battlepanda said...

My blonde American friend who spoke very little Chinese is a much better bargainer than I when we went shopping in Shanghai (I speak chinese because I'm from taiwan). I pretty much take your approach, but she does something entirely different. She fingers the tchochke, asks how much, then she makes like she's about to put the item down and displays a contenance that mingles indecision, regret and non-chalance.

The shopkeepers can't stand the way she dangles the sale in front of them. They come down on the price automatically while she remains inscrutable. It's all about mental toughness and a willingness to just walk away, if you ask me.

1:14 PM  
Blogger Isaac said...

I've tried the non-chalant thing, but it so far hasn't worked (and I'm only here another 2 days, so I don't think I'll get another chance). But if she can pull it off...impressive!

4:39 PM  

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