The Street Bazaar
Designer Goods and Shopping Malls
If you’re in a trendy boutique in a glitzy shopping mall, the clerk’s not going to bargain with you over the price of a Fendi bag, but in the smaller local shops, street stalls and bazaars located throughout Asia, it’s a skill you’ll need to learn.Many local vendors are peddling hand-made crafts, and so they have a lot of leeway in pricing. Don’t feel like you need to pay the “sticker price”. In fact, many vendors will not list a price at all, instead quoting a price only after they size up the depth of pocket and relative gullibility of the individual buyer. It helps to know a few key phrases in the local language, but many shopkeepers do speak multiple languages. It’s not unusual to hear a single vendor holding multiple conversations over the course of just a few minutes in Hindi, English, and Thai.Even if there is a language barrier, vendors have a way of making themselves understood. Typically, if there is a language barrier, the vendor will have a pocket calculator so they can key in the price to show you. You can still bargain even if you don’t speak the language-hold out your hand for the calculator, and then key in a lower price and hand it back. Proceed this way until you strike a deal.
Better yet, if you have a friend that’s a local, bring them along. Vendors usually have a “tourist price” and a “local price,” and your friend can typically ask for the “local price” on your behalf.
Beware of Scams
First of all, taxicabs recognize a tourist with money when they see one, and taxicab drivers will typically derive a second income by feeding tourists to certain vendors in exchange for a commission off the sales. As such, a cab driver is usually not the best person to ask for advice on a shopping destination. Another common scam is when you ask the driver to take you to a tourist destination, and they respond that “they’re closed today” because of some special national event that is usually nonexistent. They “just happen to know”, however, that there is a special government sale on gemstones going on, with below-wholesale prices, and they would be happy to take you there! Of course, the gemstones are not real or are of very poor quality,Also, counterfeit goods may be prevalent in certain bazaars, so if it sounds too good to be true, it probably is. If you want to buy a Prada handbag, go to a licensed retail outlet. You can find what looks at first glance to be Prada handbags at bazaars in Cambodian border towns, from street vendors in Bangkok, and in some of the back streets of Hong Kong and Beijing, for the equivalent of about five dollars-but they’re not the real thing, and there’s a chance you may have it taken away by the customs agent when you go back home.
Know the customs rules
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