A Lover's Guide to Bargaining
Some of my best relationships have occurred while I have been shopping in a souk. Like dating, the art of bargaining can be a wonderful or horrendous experience -- one that has left me with my fair share of both disappointments and marriage proposals. Good bargaining is like good flirting: it's a game where the winner can potentially take all.
Main image courtesy of Billy Farrel, Billy Farrel, Assouline
Your goal is to buy whatever you are lusting after for half of the opening price. If this means you also have to agree to drink a cup of tea while hearing about the merchant's unmarried brother in New Jersey, so be it. In all my years of shopping I have never met a souk I did not love for at least a few hours. Just remember to keep an open mind and an open heart; after all, this is not just skipping off to the mall. You are about to perform an ancient ritual whose principles are deeply entrenched in the local culture. So go ahead and relax, be polite, and remember: regardless of what happens, never pay more than half of the opening price. Enjoy!
Billy Farrel and Assouline
1. Bargaining is the name of the game, however being nice and polite while getting what you want is the correct way to play.
2. This could be the best or worst relationship of your life. Don’t forget to treat the seller as you would want to be treated. Always exchange pleasantries before you respond to his opening offer with a 50% price reduction.
3. Do your homework by knowing what is out there. Comparison shop before you arrive; know the going rates by consulting guide books, blogs, and trusted friends. Remember: everyone has a cousin that has a friend that knows someone that can get you the best deal. Don’t forget to use your common sense.
4. Don't rush. Good relationships take time to mature. When haggling, expect to spend twice as much time as you would have liked. Never refuse your host's -- a.k.a. shopkeeper's -- invitation for tea, water, or coffee; this is all part of the courting dance. Haggling is like being in love: in the end, it's all about compromise.
5. Be willing to walk away. This is your greatest strength. You should always assume you will find the same product somewhere else. The world is filled with things to fall in love with. We promise another will come along!