How do you bargain with street vendors ?

Feb 8th, 2008, 08:41 AM
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How do you bargain with street vendors ?

How do you bargain with street vendors who sell their artwork and hand made crafts?
How do you determine the value?
Is there a rule of thumb to this interesting endeavor?
GoPlanB is offline  
Feb 8th, 2008, 08:50 AM
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Where are you talking about? Because vendors that may have some open-air stalls or facilities on some market square in Europe aren't exactly like bargaining in the souk where anything goes.

I don't buy hardly ever from street vendors who are literally guys on the street. I have bought from places like the stalls in the Cloth Hall in Krakow, etc., or roving markets in various cities where they set up regularly. I don't usually bargain at all with any of those people in Western Europe. Sometimes if I think something is really overpriced or I've seen similar things lower, but want to buy for convenience and to get it over with -- I ask if they have "discounts" for someone buying more than one thing. That is a little classier than bargaining -- often they will give you a little something off for that. But that's only if I want to buy more than one thing.

Other than that, for real anything-goes street guys, I think something is only worth what you are willing to pay for it, economically. That's my basis. Usually guides will recommend starting at about 50 pct of the asking price in some places where things are really overpriced and it's expected (like many Middle-Eastern countries, or some places in Mexico I've been). Once I got a great bargain by mistake as I was bargaining in Spanish, and made a slip and offered about half what I meant to. It actually worked and I got the item, which was funny -- but in that case, it was a last minute offer because I really didn't care that much if I got it or not and I think the vendor realized it. It works a lot if you really don't care.

Generally, I don't like the whole thing as I'm not a big shopper to begin with, and I find haggling over prices and items rather distasteful an activity. So I don't do it much.
Christina is offline  
Feb 8th, 2008, 09:05 AM
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Hello Christina,
The cities I will be visiting are Rome, Florence, Venice and Paris.
I know there are local artists who do oil paintings and sell them in the streets near the tourist attractions.
Some of them do a good job on the paintings and I do not mind buying a few of them and frame it when I get home.
Just wondered if there are ways to be a better bargainer.
GoPlanB is offline  
Feb 8th, 2008, 09:33 AM
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Hi GoPlanB. When we visit Europe, we buy paintings from vendors as our souvenirs. As for how to bargain, I have to admit it's something I've never tried to do with an artist. Basically, if I love the painting, and it's within my budget, then I buy it. But I'm talking small watercolors, that usually run 10-25 euros. I guess I would advise you to do the same: if you love it, then decide what it's worth to you, and don't pay any more than that. If you feel something is overpriced, perhaps ask the artist if they can go any lower.

Also, since you'll be in Venice, two of my favorite watercolors were purchased there. There is a guy who usually hangs out outside of the Doge's palace, on the side by the water. I've been to Venice twice, and he was there both times. He's usually working on an oil painting, but he has some watercolors he sells, too. Sorry I can't be more exact on the directions, but I'm sure you'll run into him if you're strolling around.
britomart is offline  
Feb 8th, 2008, 10:31 AM
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Look "with longing"

Ask 1-2 questions

Walk away

works every time.
jodeenyc is offline  
Feb 8th, 2008, 10:32 AM
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Hello Britomart,
I once bought two oil painting from Asia in the evening. I did not do the bargain because the vendor voluntarily reduce the price by half because he was ready to pack and go. I bought two oil paintings without any further bargaining with him.
With this trip to Europe, I would not mind buying a few more paintings, frame them and hang it on the walls. I think it will be one of the best travel souvenirs to bring home. Because once you look at them, it always bring warm memories of your travels and motivate you to keep on traveling.
This time around, I do not think i will get any offers from vendors. I just need to know how to bargain better.
GoPlanB is offline  
Feb 8th, 2008, 10:35 AM
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After a morbid fear of the haggle, I have learned (thank you Thailand/Egypt) to LOVE it! Basically I usually check out the area and see if more then one vendor is selling similar items; then I suggest a price about 30% lower then I want to pay and work my way up; the trick is to NEVER be afraid to WALK away if they don't bargain with you. Good luck!
Thyra is offline  
Feb 8th, 2008, 10:42 AM
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Hello jodeenyc,
Can you be more specific on how to - "Look "with longing""

Ask 1-2 questions -about the painting or about the price?

Walk away - do they counter offer you?

GoPlanB is offline  
Feb 8th, 2008, 10:43 AM
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I would not feel right batering with an artist selling their own art works or crafts. I would pay their asking price.

(...Unless it very clearly is a part of the culture like in Mexico, but I do not believe that is true in western Europe generally speaking).
suze is offline  
Feb 8th, 2008, 10:54 AM
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We had an interesting experience in Rome. A bunch of guys were selling knock-off purses. They would spread a bed sheet on the ground and display their wares on it. When the police came by they would grab the corners of the sheet, sling it over their shoulder and disappear.

My wife was bargaining with one of them over a purse and I noticed the other vendors clearing out as a policeman approached. The haggeling process suddenly became a lot more in my wife's favor since the vendor wanted to finish the deal and get out of there. She got a great bargain.
AisleSeat is offline  
Feb 8th, 2008, 11:00 AM
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The poster is asking about how to find a fair price from an artist/artisan/crafts person. This is entirely different than someone selling other kinds of goods.

As I said, to determine the value, ask yourself what it's worth to you, and pay that amount.

I have also had artists/sellers voluntarily lower the price. I think if they're going to do that, they will do it without any prompting.
britomart is offline  
Feb 8th, 2008, 11:48 AM
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Look with longing = act interested. Pick up the piece, admire it, etc.

1-2 questions like what is the price? where is it from? what is the history? etc. just to get the person to converse with you.

When you walk away you'll usually get a lower price. The previous poster commented on this too.

(I haggle for a living - not in this setting but something fairly similar)

jodeenyc is offline  
Feb 8th, 2008, 12:16 PM
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Well, haggling over fake purses spread out on a blanket, being sold illegally, is a lot different than buying original artwork from the artist. I have a friend who is an artist in Rome, and the last time I was there, he was saying how a lot of Americans and other tourists really want something for nothing. I think many times they are willing to come down a little, especially if you're buying more than one piece, but as Christina said, it's not like haggling in the souk. Remember to have a little appreciation for the talent of the artist and the amount of work put into the painting.
SusanP is offline  
Feb 8th, 2008, 12:28 PM
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For future reference, note that tourists in position of counterfeit goods can be fined, at least in Italy:
Travelnut is offline  
Feb 8th, 2008, 12:45 PM
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Well, I've never bargained for anything in Europe that I can think of....wait, yes I did, in Turkey, but that's really different from Italy.I'm a first-rate haggler when it comes to souks and such, though. I get a thrill out of bargaining, I must admit.

First, it really helps to speak the local language...and fast, and with a sense of humor. If you can't do that, you're already at a double disadvantage (you're a tourist and you only speak English). But obviously, that's not an issue you can address without a few years of intensive language training, so my next best tips would be:

Ask the price and then grin and laugh loudly with a surely you jest look on your face. Start to walk away with a polite Grazie and a dismissive wave of the hand.

You'll be called back and asked to name your price. Offer half of the price the vendor quoted. Now it's his turn to laugh out loud.

Tell him you bought a similar item for X (ridiculously lows price) no less than a week ago in (name another town).

Tell him it's your birthday.

Tell him you just got engaged and it's for your sweetheart.

Tell him it's for your dying mother/father who was planning to come on this trip but was just diagnosed with (something horrible), but insisted you come anyway. Shed a tear or two.

Point out tiny imperfections in the item.

In the middle of the negotiations, when things start to heat up, suddenly turn your attention to something else he has to offer and ask him how much is THAT? Distract him with that and a few other questions, then get back just as suddenly to the original item - he'll be confused and having a weak moment.

Or make a few calls on your cell phone to "talk" to someone about the negotiations ("He wants xxxxxeuros...what did you say you paid? That's what I thought...")

All this time, you should be periodically getting a bit higher with your price, while he gets a bit lower with his. When you reach your absolute limit and he won't go there, give him a winning smile, a big Thank You Anyway, and turn smartly and walk away.

He'll come after you. Don't do any more negotiating.

Buona fortuna!

StCirq is online now  
Feb 8th, 2008, 01:16 PM
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I don't think I have bargained with an artist or craft person, but I routinely ask at flea markets and antique/collectible stores if the marked price is the best price, and this almost always is expected and the seller usually counters with a somewhat lower price. If not, then I decide whether I want to pay the marked price or not.

When I was in France last summer, at a brocante market, I saw a set of old brass scale weights in a wooden box, I asked if the seller if this was her best price, she countered with a lower offer, and I told her I'd think about it. I cruised the rest of the market and came back. The seller and her friend were happy to see me, said they knew I really wanted it and they had told a subsequent person that the marked price was as low as they'd go. I'm holding those weights right now; they feel real good in my hands.
Nikki is offline  
Feb 8th, 2008, 01:22 PM
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Hello SusanP,
I have to agree that we have "to have a little appreciation for the talent of the artist and the amount of work put into the painting." and I do believe they will come down a little if you are sincere to buy it.
I think for vendors who sells similar merchandise that are mass produced will have to bargain a bit harder.

And hello StCirq, I cannot help myself from laughing at your detailed process of bargaining. It may go down as Fodor's Basic Beginner's Bargain 101.
GoPlanB is offline  
Feb 8th, 2008, 01:27 PM
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I find the best "line" to us is...I'm sure it's worth that..but unfortunately "that" is over my budget. This way no one is offended. Then of course I tell him my budget is only half or less than his/her price. I then linger for a moment. When he gives me his figure..I just say..Oh sorry..and start to walk away..and then make my counter offer. Of course my wife has left long before all she is so embarrased.
ourjetboat is offline  
Feb 8th, 2008, 01:29 PM
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On most trips to Italy I do buy art from venders on P. Navona or some other street vendor as you say or even a small gallery. They expect you to bargain, just be reasonable with what you are offering. Many of the sellers are not the actual artists but work on commission. I only bargain enough to get the price I am willing to pay for the art I will value in my home.

I only buy what strikes me and what I love, I have pieces from many trips all over my home. When I look at them I see why I love them for what they are rather than what I ended up paying for them.

Stand back before you bargain and ask yourself what would I expect to pay for this. What am I willing to pay. I also get a feel for the seller, if I don't get a rapport I don't buy because I don't want to think of a bad expieriece when I look at the piece at home. Right now I can point to all of art pieces and tell you the circumstances of buying them, that is half the value right there.
SeaUrchin is offline  
Feb 8th, 2008, 01:44 PM
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>How do you bargain with street vendors ?

In a loud voice, with a lot of arm waving.

ira is offline  

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