Tuesday, May 10, 2011

The Art of Bartering

Rumor has it that Walmart has the lowest prices in the merchandise world. Well, I know better!  Anyone who has ever shopped at the outdoor markets on Kenya’s city streets knows the reality!  Not a better deal can be had than the one you’ve argued over to get!

Bartering is not an exact science, and I believe that one can only measure success by how much one wants the thing they are bartering for.
I’ve been able to watch a lot of people, from all walks of life in the art of bartering.  It’s really kind of fun.  Even if you don’t understand what’s being said, the facial expressions, the waving of the hands, the rapid talking of the seller, it’s all an international language.

Sikoni Cacophony

 The people who sell things on their own, who set their own prices and decide for you if you are going to get what you want, are moody!  VERY moody!  From one day to the next, it’s as if you have to meet that person all over again, and assess their mood.  That’s why I never go the same seller twice.  That and the fact that if I know the person selling stuff to me, and like them, I’m a pushover!

Deciding is half the fun.

Here is what I have seen.  Europeans barter with a large dose of guilt.  They barter thinking they are cheating someone out of a day’s food.  This gets a high price for them every time.  Not saying that’s good or bad. It is just an observation.

Kenyans tell the seller the price, and get it - no matter what language they use.  Then they turn and tell the European how much they paid, thinking they are doing them a favor, when in fact, it just makes the European feel mad and taken advantage of.  (Case in point - a Kenyan lady paid 50 shillings for a shirt the same guy was trying to sell me for 200 shillings) ERR!

Old ladies just hand over what they think is fair and no one even argues.  That’s respect.  No, I’m not that old yet.

The oriental buyers think everything is such a great deal they hand over the first price offered. Thus making the seller feel a bit disappointed cause, as of yet, no one has ever had to argue with an oriental over a price!  Bummer!

Kids - they have the art of the barter down pat. If they want it, they whine in front of their parents AND the seller, and they get it. 

Its fair for sellers to sell to other sellers too! Who could pass up sugar cane?

 I was with a friend of mine shopping recently.  She always gets great deals. This time the seller was being kind of hard on her.  We both came away (with the merchandise of course) with a phrase we liked.  The seller said to my friend.  “Add 50 shillings more. Fifty shillings won’t make you poorer and it won’t make me richer.”  Gotta love that one.

So, here are my not so hard and fast rules of The Barter, in case you would want to give it a try:
  1. Compliment the wares that the person is selling.
  2. Look at the person selling the object, not the object.
  3. Always barter, even a little.  One has to keep his dignity you know.
  4. Don’t act like you want it.  Even if you REALLY can’t believe you are getting brand new Chacos for twenty dollars!
  5. Don’t whine in front of your mom that you have to have it and can’t live without it.  People can see you!
  6. If you are determined to pay a set amount, stick to that amount and be willing to walk away.
  7. Don’t sweat the small change.  Remember, “Fifty shillings won’t make you poorer, and it won’t make anyone else richer.”

Every marketplace has a happy crazy person. (they love to help!)

An extrovert's paradise!

You can get ANYTHING you want or don't want.

We call this  the creepy toy seller-the toys being creepy, not the guy.
Let me know how it goes!