Standing in the middle of a bustling market on the outskirts of Sydney’s inner suburbs, my man and I are looking at a plethora of spices and spice racks. Cheap by ordinary shopping standards, but I’ve done the hard yards in Asia and I’ll haggle anything.
We’re discussing our purchase in hushed tones. I want the cayenne pepper, he needs a spice rack. We come up with a crafty plan. The total price is $45. Can I get a 20% discount? You betya.
My partner flushes deep red. He doesn’t like the haggle, so I’m boss lady when it comes to market purchases.
I find the stall keeper and taste test the cayenne. I pretend that my tongue doesn’t blister and burn due to the strength of his delightful pepper powder. He laughs, I tell him its great.
‘How much for the rack?’ I ask him
‘hmmm 35 dollars’ he says, mentally adding the spices and the rack.
‘Can you make a special deal if we buy 12 spices to fill the bottles?’. I know that the extra 12 spices total an extra $20.
‘Yes, you can have… 2 free’ is his reply. This is about a $3 discount. Definitely not what I had in mind!
I pause for a second before replying
‘would you take $35 for the lot?’
Result? A gourmet kitchen with a full spice rack for well under retail.
There is an art to getting the best price in any city, and Sydney is no different. Typically, prices are fixed and most people don’t haggle or aim to drive a hard deal. But Sydney is an expensive city, for travellers and locals alike. There is no harm in trying to make things a little cheaper. And while there are those things that can’t be discounted on the spot, when you hit up the local markets, anything goes.
The rules aren’t the same as in Marrakesh or Ho Chi Minh City, but there are some simple ways to get a better price at any of Sydney’s markets. In order to get the best price without embarrassing yourself, here are some simple rules for getting the best price at the markets.
Rule #1: Don’t let on that you love the item
Stall holders are ultimately sales people. They can see a sucker a mile away, if they know that you absolutely MUST HAVE something, they won’t be so keen to drop the price.
Rule #2: Don’t be uninterested
Stall holder needs to know that you are willing and able to play ball, so to speak. Don’t pick things up and drop them, treat their items with the respect that you would expect for your own items. If you appear to be just ‘testing the waters’ of the price, you might be met with an unfair dismissal, and they are unlikely to give you a good price if they don’t think you are a genuine buyer.
Rule #3: Don’t go so low
In other countries, tourists regularly get ripped off for not knowing basic price rules. This doesn’t apply in Australia, but its still your fault if you don’t know what something is worth, because most things are price stickered. Where in Morocco or Thailand it may be common and acceptable to offer one quarter to one half of the first price, if you do this in Australia you will probably only succeed in looking rude. Aim for around 20-25% lower and you may get lucky.
Rule #4: Buy multiple
Sales people want to sell. If they can make their margins across a few items, you will be able to drive a bargain. Aim to purchase a few things from the one vendor and you will have a better chance of getting them to lower the price. But once you start bargaining below the marked price you will be expected to buy!
Rule #5: Be Polite
Bargaining and haggling is NOT common practice in Australia. Mind your manners at all times, smile and say please and thank you and you’ll be rewarded.
How do you get the best price where you live?
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