How Bargaining Might Pay Out
I remember being in Kenya in 1998. We were on Safari, and on our way to the Masaai we stopped a few times in some smaller villages to fuel up the car and get a bite to eat. Whenever we stopped, there were loads of small trader, trying to sell their good to those who made a stop-over, usually tourists. Most articles where typical souvenirs, and I spotted a small ashtray I liked, made out of pottery and painted nicely. I started talking to the man, and we engaged in a bit of small-talk. Finally, when I asked about the price, he told me he wanted 1,200 Shillings (approx. 12 Euros) for it. I thought for Kenyan standards, this was quite a lot, and I started bargaining with him just like I read in the Kenyan tourist guide. After another 15 mintues, we finally agreed on 200 Shillings (2 Euros). Now that is what I call a discount.
I nearly forgot about this experience after I got back to Europe, until one day I went with a friend of mine to buy some food for her dog recently. She took everything she wanted to the cashier, and I believe the total bill was 40 Euros. And she spoke the maginal words: “Can we bargain something off the price?” I was a bit stunned, since I had never tried this in Europe, nor have I heard from someone doing it. But the salesperson at the pet shop replied politely: “of course we can! After all, I am a trader”. Now the newly bargained price was not as low as it was in Kenya, but I believed she bought the food for 35 Euros; that is 5 Euros for one purchase… and some dogs eat a lot of food.
I tried following the same principle, and during a month I asked many different salespeopel whether he would bargain. I did receive a lot of “no’s”, but also a “yes” a couple of time. Even my favourite shop, where I buy shirts, gave me a 8 Euro discount on 2 shirts, provided I would buy two and not just one. Since I buy at least 10 shirts per year, that is a discount of 45 Euros per year. It might not seem much… but as they say, small amounts also count.
Bargaining practices might be very different according to where you live; bargaining is more common in developing countries, or those with a bargaining culture than in the western world. Bargaining is more difficult in large metropoles than in smaller towns. However, I had a lot of fun simply trying it, and additionally I now know some shops which are generally willing to bargain and I know which shops do not bargain at all.