Now, I may be a business major at one of the best business schools in the United States but apparently I haven’t learned anything because every time I interact with the people who work in the markets they try and take me to school. “I have costs” they begin to say and then go on a long rant. Here are the best tips on how to beat these business professors trained in the mean streets.
1. Don’t think in terms of American money.
Thinking in terms of how much it costs in America or what you can get for a certain price in American stores is the easiest way to get you robbed. 100RMB is a bit less than $20 in the US but here, that’s a pretty penny that you need to hang onto if you expect to make it. I bought 3 ties for 300RMB, which is about $50. As a budding tie collector, I checked em out made sure the stitching was tight ensured that they wouldn’t come apart after tying them a few times and thought “3 nice quality ties for $50 that’s alright, I’ll do it”. I talk to someone later that day that bought 6 (including one bow tie for 180RMB). BOOM! I let them rob me and it was only because I thought about what was possible in America. This is the Wild West East everything is possible and you CAN get more for less as long as you don’t let your mind hold you captive.
2. Play up what you don’t like
If you love something in the market play it cool. As soon as you get excited that’s when they have the upper hand. Carefully inspect the object. If there are a few hanging threads mention that insult the item as much as possible lines like “If I wear this in America people will call me poor” and “this isn’t (the material in question) I work at Macy’s and I know (that material)” are excellent at getting the ball rolling and lowering the price. If the person grabs you or gives you a tap (and they will- it’s just how they operate) get real insulted about it tell them you’re done and you didn’t like that and walk out they’ll shout after you “I’m sorry, let’s be friends” and start lowering the price. Walking away from their little shops is actually your most powerful tool when the negotiations get stuck.
3. Stick in groups
The more people you have talking at them, insulting goods in the store, and haggling gets them flustered and more likely to stop at the price you want to pay. Furthermore, when you go to buy items in bulk you can make stroke their ego and say things like “Oh we’re buying 2. We’ll tell our friends where we got this awesome thing and you’ll have more business and we’ll even tell them we paid more for it”.
4. Stick to your guns & don’t feed into their crap
I went to buy a “Polo cashmere sweater” from a lady who told me the price was 2000RMB but because I was a student she’d give it to me for 1300RMB. When you go to buy an item get a starting price in mind, then start the bidding a little lower than that so you never go above the price you want to pay. I offered 100RMB and we went from there. The business lesson always comes out when you’re around the price you want in this case around 150RMB. They’ll complain about how you’re making them lose money that’s not even close to true. They have ridiculous margins and will be completely fine. She got to 135RMB and I was willing to pay around 130RMB. I managed to get her to 90RMB because I applied rule 2 and played up the fact that she insulted me by hitting me. It didn’t hurt but it got me below my opening bid price so it was a win.
The markets are an incredibly fun place to kill the entire day. It’s not even about the things you’re buying—it’s more so the ridiculous prices that items start at and then fighting them to get it down. That Lebron James Heat uniform may look like crap but it has value because you fought to get it for $10 versus $150. For the record, I did not buy a crappy Heat uniform…
-Marcus A. Carter