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Expected costs and Bartering for tourist souvenirs in TJ

In cooperation with: Visit Mexico
San Diego...
2 posts
1 review
Expected costs and Bartering for tourist souvenirs in TJ

Hi all-

I live in San Diego and want to start exploring Tijuana and getting to know it better since it's so close. I'm planning on going down and purchasing some touristy souvenirs for friends (beaded necklaces, bracelets, luchador masks etc.) and I'm wondering if anyone has good idea of what I should be paying for them. I know that most of the gear is made en mass somewhere in Mexico and gets to all of the the tourist markets because I have seen the same stuff everywhere.

Also, what are your tips for bartering to get a good price on these items? My experience is that some of these guys are GREAT at overselling you.

Thanks!

9 replies to this topic
San Diego...
2 posts
1 review
1. Re: Expected costs and Bartering for tourist souvenirs in TJ

Also- I should add that the necklaces I am specifically interested in purchasing are in the Huichol style... I'm curious as to where these come from and any history on the art form itself. Thanks!

Anaheim, California
Destination Expert
for Tijuana, Anaheim
Level Contributor
4,251 posts
10 reviews
2. Re: Expected costs and Bartering for tourist souvenirs in TJ

The same stuff is sold in a million stores, so the secret is to not let them think you're eager to buy it. You can always come back. But as for how much you should pay, impossible to say without seeing the specific item.

Bargaining is not as commonplace as it used to be and the posted prices are a little closer to reality than they used to be.

Washington State
Destination Expert
for Yosemite National Park
Level Contributor
70,656 posts
123 reviews
3. Re: Expected costs and Bartering for tourist souvenirs in TJ

Hi

I saved some shopping tips from a Cabo forum thread posted in 2011. I will paste the relevant sections. (And note that travellerCA is a Tijuana Destination Expert and really knows Tijuana. My information may not be entirely relevant to shopping in Tijuana. I think of it more as 'background information' or 'guidelines.')

NEWBIE TIP.....SHOPPING AND BARGAINING

Have fun with the haggling. It's part of the game. Ask the price, make an offer and see if they counter or accept. It may take a while and be prepared to walk away if you don't like the price. Remember, retail stores almost always have fixed prices, so don't expect to do much dickering there.

Here are some tips for bargaining with vendors....

1. There is a superstition about the first sale of the day being lucky and the last sale of the day is considered a bonus and sign that tomorrow will be a good day. If you're an early bird or you catch them just as they're about to go home, you can usually get a smoking deal

2. Shop around. Many people are selling the same stuff, so if you don't like the price you're quoted, walk away and do some comparison shopping. Worst case, you can always go back and buy the item at the last agreed on price with the first vendor. Even if they tell you the deal is only if you buy now, they'll sell it to you for that amount later too.

3. Don't insult vendors by going too low. If they want 100 pesos, don't expect them to sell to you for 20. Remember that most of these people are just reselling someone else's stuff. They have to give a fixed amount back to the supplier and whatever the vendor can sell the item for above that amount is their profit.

4. The more you buy, the more you save. It is standard practice in Mexico to offer a better rate for "mayoreo", or wholesale. Basically if you buy multiple items, generally 3 or more, you will get a better price. This sometimes works in established retail stores too, if the owner is present, although don't try this at Walmart, lol

5. Everyone can figure out what they're comfortable with, but my rule of thumb is that the first price is about 20 to 25% higher than what they will usually accept. I try not to go lower than that, because then I'm taking away their profit. I like a good bargain, but I also like to be fair. It is a business, after all.

6. Low season and high season make a difference. Don't expect to get the same deals in December that you would find in September.

7. Remember, it's all part of the game. Don't get angry, please don't be rude, but stay firm. Find out what something's worth by shopping around and by all means, go for the best deal. Even if the starting price seems outrageous, don't be offended. They expect you to haggle.

Anaheim, California
Destination Expert
for Tijuana, Anaheim
Level Contributor
4,251 posts
10 reviews
4. Re: Expected costs and Bartering for tourist souvenirs in TJ

A few more things:

8. The better your Spanish, the better the deals. If you're bumbling along in English, the prices won't go down as much as if you speak Mexican-accented Spanish.

9. Sometimes they will pull the family card... sir, I have a family to feed, etc.

10. Remember than it's about 20 pesos to a dollar, and the minimum wage in Mexico is about 75 pesos ($3.75) per DAY. Haggle if you want to, but try to keep some perspective: the extra dollar or two means little to a U.S. buyer, but can be the difference between a terrible day and an okay day for a shopkeeper.

11. When haggling for taxi fares, remember that the taxi driver has to rent his vehicle from the fleet owner and pay for the gasoline, so be a little more generous than you would be otherwise.

12. Don't ever swear or blaspheme, in either language, while haggling—Mexico is still a very traditional society, and if you offend them they may just simply show you the door. (I can't believe I have to write this, but I can't even express some of the terrible behavior I've seen in shops lately.)

13. A handshake, if offered (usually only for larger items, not for blankets or tourist tchotchkes) is the end of the deal. No haggling past the handshake.

Edited: 5:45 pm, September 06, 2018
Anaheim, California
Destination Expert
for Tijuana, Anaheim
Level Contributor
4,251 posts
10 reviews
5. Re: Expected costs and Bartering for tourist souvenirs in TJ

14. If speaking Spanish, ALWAYS use the usted form, even if the person selling is some fourteen-year-old kid.

15. Sometimes the shop will be decorated with memorabilia from elsewhere in Mexico. Most people in Tijuana were not born there, and there's still a lot of love for their hometowns. If you happen to see memorabilia from a place you've been, bring up your visit. "Usted es de Arandas? Yo estuve hace tres años, y siempre pienso en los churros al lado de la iglesia..." Even if the price doesn't lower ("el descuento paisano"), the haggling will be faster. But don't fake it! They'll know, and that's not good.

Level Contributor
64 posts
6. Re: Expected costs and Bartering for tourist souvenirs in TJ

Lol. Hilarious!

California
Level Contributor
578 posts
7. Re: Expected costs and Bartering for tourist souvenirs in TJ

A large number of souvenirs vendors is located at Plaza Santa Cecilia. Take a taxi or uber to 'Tijuana Arch' or hotel 'Nelson' at Avenida Revolucion. the plaza is right behind the hotel Nelson (please google map) . On weekend evening there is often live music. You can also walk 6-7 block through Avenida Revolucion until to Jai Alai and Pulgas disco. It is safe, there are many peoples, restaurants and clubs open on the Av. Revolucion. (BTW I heard from my Mexican friend that the weekly salary in Mexico is about US $ 80- $ 100) Link to good videos about Tijuana, Rosarito etc. and Baja California http://crossingsouth.com/videosmaps/

Anaheim, California
Destination Expert
for Tijuana, Anaheim
Level Contributor
4,251 posts
10 reviews
8. Re: Expected costs and Bartering for tourist souvenirs in TJ

The $7 a day is a complete minimum—Mexico has many minimum wages depending on where in the Republic you live and what you do for a living. It's also why the police ask for your profession when giving you a fine—the fine is based on a number of days of the minimum wage for your wage class.

San Diego...
Level Contributor
34 posts
12 reviews
9. Re: Expected costs and Bartering for tourist souvenirs in TJ

I'm in TJ a few times a week and once in a while have a need for a sombrero or other trinket.

My best tips:

1. If possible, go on a Tuesday or Wednesday - shops are more likely to cut you a deal on a slow day. (I recently bought a poncho on a Tuesday - it was $20USD. On a Saturday afternoon, the price was $30 at the same shop.)

2. That type of beaded jewelry (Huichol) is sold in a few spots. Check the weaves - some are not as well done as others. My favorite shop for buying that jewelry is located off Revo in an "arcade" - it's the one just past the arch going south (towards 2nd St) on the west side of the street. The arcade is called Villa Colonial and there are a few shops within it. If you enter from Revo, the shop I prefer is on the left side about two or three stores in. You'll see the glass case of the beaded skulls in front of the shop. I've picked up necklaces with earrings for around 500 - 800 pesos, which is very fair considering the amount of handwork in these. The ladies in this shop make some of the jewelry on site. (the fully beaded rings are SUPER COOL - and at 50p each a killer deal....)

3. If you want the masks and pottery and so on, take yourself up to the Artisans Mercado - corner of 2nd and Negrete. 5p to park. Walk around for a while to see what everyone has --- and check the prices from shop to shop. Cool things here - loads of "yard" pottery; GIANT (think adult person size) pinatas custom made and every other size you can imagine of any object/person/idea - pricing around $50USD and up; great selection of handblown glassware (you know with the blue/green rims) and of exquisite pottery for table; cool furniture, and all the trinkets and stuff you'd find up on Revo but cheaper. ALSO, there is a great bead shop here - strings of beads for making jewelry but not a lot of jewelry. If you have a broken beaded necklace, they can probably fix it on site for 100p or less. Located on the "outside" of the Artisans Market near the plaza/riverwalk ped bridge.

4. TravellerCA is absolutely correct about the bargaining stuff - seriously, is a dollar one way or the other going to break your bank? You don't need to pay immediate asking (although I do sometimes when I know they're offering a decent price) but don't be a complete cheapskate either.

Lastly, you can build great relationships with these shopkeepers. I usually start out buying something small but I keep coming back over the following weeks and months, often bringing a friend or two to come look at and buy stuff with me. Most of the ones that I know will quickly offer me a better price without even much haggling at all because they know I come back time and time again.

Oh - one more thing. If you see something you like but they don't have it in the color/size you want, ask them anyway. One of them will often go get it from another shop and then sell it to you - and no, they don't jack up the price for doing that (at least, they haven't done that to me before). Example: we were buying some wallets and one of us wanted a knife, too. The shop didn't have one we liked but he ran "somewhere" and arrived back with four more to chose from and then gave us a good bundle deal on all the stuff we bought.

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