Souvenir shopping is something just about every family does while on a vacation. Usually there is a LONG list of people back home that you need to shop for.....Grandma, your neighbor who is taking in your mail, that teacher who didn't give your kids too much homework to complete while you're gone etc.
Of course you want to bring home a few rememberances for you and your family too...That special little something that your family will admire and treasure for years to come.
Let's face it, shopping for souvenirs can get expensive. To avoid sticker shock, it's often good to start your shopping excursion with a budget in mind. This will help you from being overwhelmed by pushy sales people in local tourist traps.
In many countries, the fine art of negotiation is a way of life. Shopping can quickly turn into a game of skill. Many folks love the thrill of the competitive sport of shopping while other people cringe at the idea. If you familiarize yourself with the rules of engagement, anyone can haggle like a pro when shopping for souvenirs.
Recently while visiting Mexico with my family, I managed to successfully purchase items at a fair price. Personally I love to power shop and haggle. Here are some tips to help you get the best souvenir prices...
The first thing you need to recognize is that almost every merchant has the same items for sale. These merchants are competing against one another to sell theirs before another. So with that in mind, that tells you all you need to know! They WANT you to purchase what they are selling, so MAKE them sell it to you- Work backwards, and here's how.
* Visit at at least three different shops, and pick out at least two items you feel you are certainly like to purchase.
* Before you leave the third shop, inquire about two items ask how much each of those are. Nine times out of 10, the price is going to seem astronomical. Of course it is, it's like having your own garage sale- you want as much for that item is you could possibly get.
* Never pay the asking price, let the salesman know you did not plan to pay that much. They will most likely ask how much you want to pay, but your answer should be I don't know. Immediately then, they will offer you the item at their next lower price.
* Tell them you will think about it and you will be back. (They probably won't let you go, but you need to just walk away...stay strong shoppers)
* go to your next shop and ask about the same items. The price will be relatively close to what you just were told, however you need to disclose that their neighbor has just offered you that same item for a price a few dollars less than the price she is offering. Almost always, they will offer you that item at the lower price or even maybe a lower price. Tell him you'll think about it, and walk away.
* Head to the third shop and repeat steps one and two. By now you should be able to purchase your item at the price you're willing to pay. If this shop owner is unwilling just pay the lowest price they're willing to sell for.
Using these techniques, I was able to purchase a beautiful, handwoven Mexican poncho for $22 which was originally quoted to me as $50. I thought what I paid was a fair price for both parties, and I walked away satisfied!
It's important to keep one important fact when you're haggling, the transaction needs to be a win-win for both parties. That hard working, haggling shop keeper is depending on your tourism dollars to feed his kids. Haggle with respect! Don't take advantage of people because karma will catch up with you no matter how far you roam.
Text time you go on a family vacation with your new pro haggling skills, don't be afraid to make that souvenir list a little bit longer! Happy Bargaining!