Wednesday, August 11, 2010

Bargaining, Not for the Faint-Hearted

In stores prices are generally marked and fixed – but not always. In fact I’ve even bargained for the price of a clinic visit in the last year. But if you are going to the local craft market, known as the Masai Market, everything is 100% negotiable.

Some personalities are born negotiators, others are more cut and dried types. Some folks enjoy bargain hunting or just shopping in general, for others it’s a huge chore. Although I’m not a shop-aholic, I happened to be blessed with good bargaining skills while actually enjoying shopping.

I inherited my bargaining traits from my dad. He was a fairly frugal man, but he loved a deal. If he spotted one, it was hard to pass up. But he had to need the item to actually see the value of the deal. One year he found a really good price on neckties. He got something like 15 ties for a real great price. He gave one to every male relative that Christmas. Too bad they were not very stylish. My eldest brother wore his every Christmas for some years just to put the tie to use.

But I digress. With our recent battery of visitors I found myself in the Masai Market a few times. One visitor told me later, it’s a good thing you were there, Jan, I couldn’t have done it without you.”

Another visitor, one that’s seasoned in art of negotiation but not all the familiar with the current prices was going at it with a seller for something relatively small. They were down to a difference of 50 shillings (less than a dollar), and seemed to be that neither was willing to give in to the other. I could see my friend wanted the item, but didn’t need it, so was holding out for the woman to give in.

Then the lady selling the item said to her, “Oh mama, just close your eyes and bless me.” My friend and I just looked at each other and started laughing. How could we not give her that mere 50 shillings with such a cleaver line?

It was a happy ending for both parties. And that’s how shopping in the Masai Market should be.

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