Gina Petrovich is writing a travel column for the Capital News every two weeks. - Carli Berry/Capital News

Petrovich: To bargain or not to bargain

—By Gina Petrovich

We are in the thick of the busiest shopping time of the year, lineups are endless, moods are frantic, and the urge to spend is at its all-time high. While I don’t recommend bartering with the sales associate at the electronics store in the mall, I want to share how I’ve scored some great deals in my travels and, well let’s just say I have a very expensive low-quality beach towel that says Thailand.

To bargain or not to bargain: that is the question. You can expect to haggle your way through almost any market you pass through, even in parts of North America.

Often in larger markets the stall owners get quite competitive for your patronage as they are selling much of the same merchandise right beside each other. Yes, having all the attention on you may feel flattering, but when you have jewelry placed on your neck or tied on your wrist, it can feel very intimidating. And yes, that tray of rum punch samples is complimentary. Isn’t it?

Negotiating prices can be very daunting when you aren’t sure how to play the game, which is how I ended up with an excessively priced beach towel from Thailand. A little over $30 to be exact, which is hardly reasonable. I had plenty of room to bargain but fell short in my confidence and knowledge.

The first, and in my opinion most important piece of advice that I can share is to know the currency you will be paying in. This allows you to gain a sense of what the ask, versus what your offer is. XE currency is a great smartphone ap for those of us who would rather not do math on the spot.

Secondly, always try and be fair with what you pay. Most owners won’t accept offers that are too low but will usually start with a very high number which is why haggling can be fun. Sometimes you will need to kindly say thank you and walk away before your offer is accepted.

Another tip that I must share, Prada, Ray-Ban, and any other high-end designer items will never be sold on a roadside tarp, at a cousin’s house down the alley or a short car ride away. Yes, I am the proud owner of a pair of Ray-Foo sunglasses that I purchased in Peru. From key-chains to gold jewelry, the closer you are to highly tourist populated areas, the more you will pay.

Lastly, it never hurts to know a few words of the language spoken where you are vacationing, Yes, dos cervezas por favor is a handy Spanish phrase, but don’t stop there. In my experience, when you show that you have a little native vocabulary you may get taken more seriously. Common acknowledgments such as thank you, hello and how are you, will show respect and hopefully earn you a repertoire with the shop owner.

But For now, if you are like me and not immediately jumping on a plane to some exotic location, we wont likely get to put these skills to the test and will have to wait until Boxing day to see any prices drop.

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