Haggling in Nairobi

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Sep 28th, 2005, 01:22 PM
  #1
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Haggling in Nairobi

I have read that you should always bargain for best prices in Nairobi. Is this just for markets or could I haggle at Collectors Den.
Any adive?
lyban is offline  
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Sep 28th, 2005, 02:14 PM
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I didn't go into the Collectors Den but did visit some of the shops inside the Hilton lobby. At one of the curio stores, the salesperson made it very clear to me that prices were 'flexible'.

I think when you get there, you'll get a feel for where prices are fixed and where you can bargain. It doesn't hurt to politely ask for a discount in any store.

In markets and roadside curio shops or with street vendors, you should definitely bargain. Your driver will probably stop at a curio shop or two along the way to/from the Masai Mara for you to stretch your legs, buy a soda, and use the restroom facilities. The asking prices at these shops can be outrageously high (I think the prices correspond to the number of A&K vehicles parked outside ). Don't feel like you have to buy anything. Near the park gates, there will also be vendors selling all kinds of trinkets (usually these starting prices are lower). BTW many of the 'ebony' carvings are actually painted black, and all of the vendors are likely to tell you that they made the products whether they did or not.

The places where we didn't bargain were at the women's cooperatives we visited such as Kazuri beads and Nanyuki spinners & weavers, and at the Streetwise shop in Utamaduni as the proceeds benefit the street children who make the products sold there. And of course, at the museum shops and Sheldrick we didn't bargain either.

Hope this helps.
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Sep 29th, 2005, 03:51 PM
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While buying trinkets in the collector's den we were told that prices were already comparitively low, which we took with a grain of salt. They probably took a few dollars off about $100 (Cash) worth of keychains, etc.

After our trip around Kenya, I realised that their prices were actually extremely reasonable, and we saved a bundle (at least 50%) by shopping there as opposed to gift shops at hotels, Masai stands, etc.

Although I didn't buy any, they also have better quality artwork (sculpture, painting, jewelry) than I had seen anywhere else on our trip.
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Sep 29th, 2005, 07:59 PM
  #4
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Thanks Patty and Femi.
I just found the Collectors Den website, and the prices seem very inexpensive. Do these prices seem the same as when you were there.
http://collectorsdenkenya.com/index.html
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Sep 30th, 2005, 05:50 AM
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You'll find plenty of places traveling along the roads in Kenya where souvenirs are sold. The prices are relatively good, but you can bargain if you choose. No guarantee if you'll have luck. It's best you know prices ahead of time, before doing so.

On our very first trip, we were bombarded with tout selling along the roads, at the entrance to parks and just looked, determined value and worth. Eventually, we did most of our buying when we got to the Collectors Den where the prices were excellent.

Every tour operator brings bus loads of their clients here. They've been in business over 15-years, have over the years expanded the shop... are quite successful. And their prices are excellent.

The items you see on their website are at prices easily departed with. We've found that the salad forks/spoons and bowls are great, the carved animals - the real ebony are more expensive, but beautiful (be sure these are packed in bubble wrap). They also have some great batiks which are great for framing once home (though this will cost three to five times more then the batik itself.

The back room has higher quality art work and jewelry - so have a look.

On this last trip, though I didn't need anything - ha! ha! I did buy the beaded boxed made by the Masai women. They have sets of stacked-three that fit inside of one another - great little jewelry boxes. And also picked up a few kikoy wraps which are used by both men and women as beach cover-up (like sarong or pareo) or for women as a shawl coverup for cool evenings. Prices were excellent.

It's worth a visit.
 
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Sep 30th, 2005, 10:30 AM
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Lyban, the prices at the Collectors Den website are very good and useful as a guideline. As almost all Kenyans live with economical stress I try to avoid the game (between unequals) to get the best price possible Ė a normal price similar to what I would pay at a place with fixed prices is enough, though sometimes itís difficult to agree on whatís a ďnormalĒ price. When a seller asks for something outrageous like 20 times a ďnormalĒ price he (Iíve never had this experience with a ďsheĒ) justifies it with that itís what Americans and Japanese are very willing to pay. When I finally get a ďnormalĒ price itís because ďmy children canít eat thisĒ (holding up a batik for example). Sometimes I haggle even when the asking price is reasonable but Iím being more or less forced to buy something. Then I usually remember to ask for something I am looking for and Iím subsequently led to the other side of town to a cousinís place where Iím shown something thatís not what Iím looking for, and then I buy it anyway. Sometimes Ė mostly on the coast, almost never in Nairobi Ė the asking price is lower than Iíd expected, I donít haggle and the seller throws in some gifts with the item Iíve bought Ė quite often this is followed by a marriage proposal. Thereís a lot more to say about haggling, but I prefer fixed prices.
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Sep 30th, 2005, 10:45 AM
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Nyamera,
At our first stop at the equator (of course this is sort of an obligatory stop for all tourists heading north), one vendor asked us to pay 4500 shillings for a small wood carving! Even though we had yet to shop anywhere else, we knew this couldn't possibly be the 'normal' price
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Sep 30th, 2005, 10:55 AM
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After looking at the Collector's Den website, their prices do seem very good. You may be able to get slightly better prices from a street vendor but not by that much. I don't think I'd even try bargaining unless I was buying in large quantities.

BTW that small carving we were offered for 4500 shillings (approx USD60), a similar item sells on the Collector's Den website for USD2.
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Sep 30th, 2005, 11:01 AM
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Patty,
Iíve been asked to pay 9,000 shillings for a batik that looked exactly the same as one Iíd bought for 800.
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Sep 30th, 2005, 02:01 PM
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Lyban,
Yes the prices on the website are as I remember them in the shop.
My experience with haggling with roadside vendors was rather similar to Nyamera's and Patty's. When the initial price is soooo ridiculous (i.e. 10 times the fair price), I don't bother bargaining at all.

I actually thought the prices in the hotel gift shops were sometimes fairer(and of better quality)than objects sold at stalls.

Also check out the Utamaduni Crafts center in Langata (Near the Giraffe Manor), for a broad selection of crafts at reasonable prices.

My first choice though, is still the Collector's den. We got EXCELLENT customer service from the owner, Mr.Shah for jewelry purchases made by my friend. He responded promptly to our e-mail enquiries.
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Oct 1st, 2005, 08:43 AM
  #11
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Thanks again to all for the replies. I am on avery short safari and will be flying in to Governors Camp so will probably not be seeing any road side shops.Then on my day in Nairobi, staying at the Fairview, I will be going to Karen Blixens, The Giraffe Center, and a Bead factory. Maybe then I will see some other shops. The next day before flying home at 6pm, I am free, so was planning to got to Collectors Den and maybe the Market if I can get transportation not too expensive. I am so excited for my trip now.
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