Negotiations Tips

by Dual Income No Kids on November 29, 2009 · 1 comment

I did all of my holiday shopping in Zimbabwe at local artisan stores and markets, so I thought I’d bring you a few reminders on tips for such negotiations. These can also come in handy stateside at craft fairs and so forth.

  • Better in Bulk – You are much more likely to get a discount if you look around and then choose a vendor to buy a majority of what you are looking for. This was particularly the case when I was shopping carpets in Afghanistan, where I got a much better deal sticking with a single vendor.
  • Add it up in your head – I do a mental calculation of what everything should be, then I take about a third to a half off to come to what I think will be the eventual final price.
  • Ask them for their “best, best price” – tell them not to bother starting with some other price, but since you are buying so much, that they should give you their best price. This will often eliminate several rounds of back and forth. In fact, most times when I ask as such, they come up with a figure close to what I’ve calculated as a reasonable deal.
  • Ask for a bit lower – Vendors are always willing to go a bit lower. If they aren’t, they will often tell you so. They will tell you, actually I’m only making three dollars if I sell it to you for that price, so it isn’t worth it to negotiate any further.
  • Be prepared to walk away – If you walk away, and they let you, then what you’ve asked for is too low. They are often willing to start negotiations again if you really are interested.
  • Keep in mind the “dash” – Remember when you are picking out a bunch of stuff to hold off a bit so you can ask for more as a bonus. This is common in many parts of the world, and you can often get something extra that is great.
  • Be nice – This is key throughout negotiations. Part of it is just a game and an experience. If the person really likes you then they will sell to you for even less. Sometimes once you’ve established a relationship like this, you can even buy more for very good prices with less negotiation.
  • Be serious – I don’t get into actual negotiations unless I want something. Otherwise it can be insulting to the vendor and culturally inappropriate.
  • Timing is everything – shopping in the morning (where some cultures have beliefs about first sales), or late in the afternoon when vendors are looking for a final sale, or shopping on a rainy day when others are not there, all of these can be good times for deals.
  • Get a feel for it – Whenever I have time, I do a round of looking before I ever get to shopping. This means that I have an idea of what I want, and I can ask for prices without getting into negotiations. Then I have a place to start from when I am serious about buying.

Here is a picture of a vendor who I befriended in Zimbabwe. I’ll even be sending her the picture by email this morning. It had been a rainy day at the market and she was eager to get me to buy. I think I in the end I got a wooden bowl for my sister, the batik in her hands, and a couple of small geckos for kids.

Happy Holiday Shopping!


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