Posted by She Said
Anyone who knows me knows that I hate paying retail. For anything. I’m a sleuth at finding second-hand bargains in Reno. 50-ish pounds of Legos and Bionicles for $29. (Jason, I know this still really grosses you out! If you were here, you could run them through the ozoninator.) Like new Doc Martens for $2. A huge, beautifully framed mirror in my dining room for $40. And the list goes on. Hell, half my house is decorated with my finds. Greg will sport a new shirt at work, and coworkers, knowing his wife is a garage saling junkie, will come up and say, “There is no way that is a garage sale shirt!” Why yes, yes it is.
Through my many years of hunting for deals, I have acquired mad bargaining skills. I have a wicked ability to get things cheap. It’s a total rush for me. But, with all of my experience, all of my garage saling, and all of my asking for things at a dirt cheap price, nothing, and I do mean NOTHING, could have prepared me for my experience today at the Silk Market in Beijing.
I was so excited about this trip; I was ready to give my negotiating skills a go in this gigantic mega-mart, filled with rows upon rows, and floor upon floor, of individual stalls selling everything from China silk and “traditional” Chinese clothes to, ahem, real “Calvin Klein” and Gortex. In fact, I must have been really focused on getting to the market, because it was Greg and not me who spotted the Starbucks right off of the subway.
After fueling up with my Caramel Macchiato, we met some of Greg’s coworkers in front of the market, and we started in, my head about to pop with anticipation. And by the time we finished walking down the first aisle, this is what I learned:
Knowing Kung Fu before going would be helpful. That way when the lady in the booth grabs your hand and won’t let you go, you could do a gentle but firm chop to her arm to let you go. If she still persists, this is the perfect time to practice your Vulcan nerve pinch.
The first price they give you is insanely high, so much so that it was impossible for me not to laugh. Well, snort and laugh, actually. I can’t tell you how many times I was assured, “Lady, this not joking price!” Oh, they SO did not realize who they were dealing with.
If you must take your children, teach them how to make a killer poker face. Why? Because if the seller knows your kids want something, you can forget getting a good price. Uh, and your kids will get what they want.
Always calculate your exit strategy when entering one of the 10’ x 10’ booths. The seller will block your way if you try to leave. It’s like being in a really bad high school dance – you know, in perfect unison step left, step right, step left, step right, step left.
The calculator is used as the super-secret negotiating prop so as to not inform others of the “best” price you are getting. Do not, as if your life depended on it, do NOT hold the calculator. The seller will use this as a way to keep you in the booth by not taking it back from you when you refuse to buy. Try as you might to get them to take the calculator from you with their “joking” price still displayed, they won’t. And none of the booths have shelves. If you find yourself with the instrument of torture, be prepared to drop it and run.
Become a female before you go. You will get a better price.
As cruel as it sounds, when the seller tells you to buy that piece of children’s clothing because you love your child, tell them your kids aren’t worth it.
Wear protective gear and be prepared to walk away when you will not go any higher on a price. Sometimes they will tackle you in the aisle and agree, begrudgingly, to your “final” price.
If your clothing items have words on them, check the spelling carefully. Just for the humor of it, I really wanted to buy the shirt with a little girl and the word “angle” above her. I was told it was “angel”, and I even though I insisted on getting a lower price because it was spelled wrong, they wouldn’t do it for me.
Again, if you find yourself going with your children, sellers will grab them and bring them into their booths. To prepare for this, either:
- teach them Kung Fu so they can send some gentle but firm chops to their knees to get away, or
- put them on a leash.
Be wary of your children’s leashes, the sellers can use them to not only drag your child into their booth but you as well.
And that was just the first aisle. I did mention there were like 4 or 5 floors, yes?