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Tips for bargaining for souvenirs in Jamaica??

los angeles...
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Tips for bargaining for souvenirs in Jamaica??

Now that you have all given me some great ideas for what to buy for souvenirs, could you give me some suggestions on how to bargain in Jamaica? I'm a first time visitor and I read that the vendors kind of expect you to bargain with them. I'm afraid I'm not very good at that. How do I do it? Offer 25% less, 50% less? Also, I suppose you have to be able to walk away and act like you don't really want the item anyway? Thanks in advance for any tips!!

Brampton, ON
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1. Re: Tips for bargaining for souvenirs in Jamaica??

I'd say pick a (reasonable) price that you want to pay for an item and offer that. Depending on what it is, I sometimes offer half the price and you end up meeting somewhere in between. Usually I know in my head what I want to pay for something and if they don't want to give it to me for that, I leave. There are a million other places where you can find the same thing. As an example, I raelly wanted a sweatshirt that says Jamaica on it (something I could wear all winter here). I found some that were like 60$, no way did I want to pay that (they werent the best quality). Found the same thign somewhere else for 40, got it for 20. People want to make money and no you can go somewhere else so are usually good about bartering.

Kingston, Canada
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2. Re: Tips for bargaining for souvenirs in Jamaica??

Couldn't have said it better than DreamingMoBay. The difficult part comes when you have to walk away because you cannot come to a deal either of you are comfortable with. Sometimes there is no problem, sometimes you end up striking a deal this way, and sometimes the vendor will be upset. It's all part of it. My suggestion is to be sure you are really interested and want something before you start negotiating. Maybe even from a safe distance.

L.E.
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3. Re: Tips for bargaining for souvenirs in Jamaica??

if it comes to t shirts, rum, or any kind of souvenir which is factory made or being produced in masses then i usually have a price in my head and try to bargain towards that by stating slightly under that one and hope to meet at the point which i had in mind.

one honest exception from big bargaining is handicarft items where i know or can imagine what time and material can go into making it. i have been to negril market last year and had my eyes set on a piece of wood craft. an old rasta made them animals and other objects so beautiful. he said the price and would lower immediatly as he said he had made no money on the day at all and he needed to sell at least something. he wanted to sell them for hardly no money at all. well i know how much work goes into making wood craft so selling it for that lower price was inexceptable. i paid the full, normal price. some people might now say that is stupid. but i know art work and can appreciate good honest work. (next to that i mostly can tell if its good material or just being quickly made.)

Montego Bay
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4. Re: Tips for bargaining for souvenirs in Jamaica??

Get ready to do math in your head. :) Know ahead of time what the daily exchange rate is for the USD...then when given a price in JMD figure out the price in US funds and then decide..am I willing to pay $15 US for a straw bag that will end sitting in my closet and rotting? Am I willing to spend $6 US on a quality t-shirt?

That's how you have to look at things here..you can't just decide off the top that you aren't paying asking price for anything. To me that's rude and that's why some tourists are being looked at in a negative way...they are just being tolerated because they feel they can come here and name their price and the vendors have to take it because they need the money.

I have to ask...when ppl go to Disney World or some other tourist mecca...do they haggle for prices on tickets? Or on t-shirts? I dont' think so.

Indiana
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5. Re: Tips for bargaining for souvenirs in Jamaica??

I, too, am more than willing to pay higher prices for handmade merchandise, but that is becoming harder and harder to find.

EVERYONE says that they made what they are selling. 90% of them are lying. That is just the way it is.

A lot of the stuff is made in china (like magnets, t shirts, and a lot of the rasta-colored stuff). I have even bought a shell necklace that I WATCHED the clasp being installed for the final touch...only to discover a tiny 'made in china' tag when I got back to the hotel.

The paintings that are seen everywhere are mass-produced as well. That is why you'll see the exact same painting at 70% of the stalls at a market. That's fine. I have bought one before...but I paid far less for that one than the painting that I WATCHED being painted in Portland.

It all comes down to what you are willing to pay. I have bartered $15 necklaces down to $5 because I knew they didn't actually make them. I have paid within a few dollars of asking price for carvings and my real painting.

Missouri
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6. Re: Tips for bargaining for souvenirs in Jamaica??

iriestar,

You're right, people don't haggle over prices at Disney. But there have many times in the markets when I politely tell someone "NO, I'm not interested" that they start to barter. So why would people not expect that to be the common custom in Jamaica?

Kingston, Canada
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7. Re: Tips for bargaining for souvenirs in Jamaica??

One more little tip. Never let a vendor place something in your hand unless you want him/her to, or anywhere on your person for that matter. Once it's in your possession, it's 99% certain that it will not be accepted back and you will be faced with paying something for it.

L.E.
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8. Re: Tips for bargaining for souvenirs in Jamaica??

i know it is hard to find good quality handicraft. that normally goes for any country. i mean even in australia they were trying to sell didgeridoos with art work on it which was not quality nor genuine.

the naive art work found so often in jamaica is a display of what people want. i, too, like it very much.

although these paintings are usually hand made the down side it that they exist in hundreds of the same kind again as the people who make them know that there is a real interest in them. same goes with wood craft.

but from time to time you can find that extraordinary little stall which takes work from people who are artists with a bit more of an ineterst to create unique art work.

i try to find those people and those who can show me their studio, like the one in kingston, or the ones who can actually create in front of my eyes.

Montego Bay
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9. Re: Tips for bargaining for souvenirs in Jamaica??

iriestar,

You're right, people don't haggle over prices at Disney. But there have many times in the markets when I politely tell someone "NO, I'm not interested" that they start to barter. So why would people not expect that to be the common custom in Jamaica?

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They can expect what they want to expect when they come here I just don't people coming here thinking that everything is open to a haggle. Remember, these are working people with bills to pay just like you and I.

I am a business owner here in JA and believe me, if I gave everyone a discount I wouldn't make any money.

Brooklyn, New York
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10. Re: Tips for bargaining for souvenirs in Jamaica??

Last year when I was in Jamaica, I really didn't bargain because I found the vendor's prices reasonable and willing paid the price they asked.

I mean come one, why bargain, it's not like you can't afford the souvenirs which are so much cheaper than buying the same item at the hotel gift shop.

Jamaicans need to make a living also so why be cheap.

If it cost a 1 USD dammit, give them the dollar and don't try to get it for 50 cent.

I hate seeing people trying to get over of the vendors when they know that they can afford to buy it at the price asked.