The Art of Bargaining in Beijing China

Moving on from Thailand to another chapter in my life is Beijing, the capital of the People’s Republic of China and holds about 25 million people. I did not take that many pictures of China when I was there, so there are going to be some thumbnails and photos of China that I will post that will be from the internet but they will be pictures of places that I have been to. The photo above is an actual picture that I took outside of Yashow Market. It is in the Sanlitun area of Beijing (which is the foreigner’s district), and I am not sure if it is still there at this very moment. I left Beijing back in February of 2015, and at the time when I was leaving, Yashow Market had been shut down for about a month or two. I think they were just doing some renovation work in the building, or they were actually shutting it down and doing construction work and changing it up, I DONT KNOW. But I am using this market as an example for a very important subject matter, and I will talk about my arrival to Beijing in a later post.

First off, know that whenever you are going into a market in China, that the majority of the products at that market is either fake or cheaply made. I am just keeping it real, the only product that I bought from the market that actually lasted a while for me were the outlet adapters. Everything else was crap, the clothes were terrible, the electronics were terrible, some of the stuff is useful but mostly crap. Since you know the products are crap, you need to know that they are going to offer you an outrageous price that is going to make you look at them like they are crazy. The misconception that “you get the exclusive clothing products for cheap” is very real. The place where they make all of the products that are being shipped to America is not made in major cities like Beijing and Shanghai, it is made out in the cut somewhere where most foreigners don’t go. So while you are shopping at a market, here are some tips you need to know.

When you walk into a market like Yashow in Beijing, you are immediately going to notice that the majority of the people that are selling items on that particular floor are selling the same things. It’s usually phone chargers, beats by dre headphones, Polo, flashlights, sunglasses, tea kettles, and other items of that nature. Since they are all pretty much almost selling the same items and there is competition, that makes the seller aggressive. Her approach has to be more unique and her prices are going to have to be more appealing then the others since she is selling the same thing as the guy next to him, and notice that I am saying “she”. The women that are sellers are usually the ones that are aggressive and begging the customers to look at their products, the men just sit back and say nothing. The male sellers aren’t really out there begging people to buy their products, if you buy it you buy it, if not then whatever lol. The women call you over, they tell you how handsome or pretty you are, they ask what do you like and you look around to see what they have. If something sparks your interest, like a shirt for example, you ask that person if they have that shirt in a size that you like. They find the shirt, you try it on, it fits funny to you but hell, all the clothes fit funny in the market because they are fake. You are satisfied with the shirt and you ask how much, and then they throw an insane price at you as if you were literally buying that shirt from the actual name brand store. They have told me 450 yuan ($70.54 USD) for a fake shirt before, and at that moment is when you need to no how to play the game.

See most people would say “that’s too much, how about 100 yuan?”, and that right there is when you just messed up. You don’t ever suggest a price because that is giving them the exact minimum you are willing to pay and they are not willing to go no lower then that. The moment you feel like you want to go lower then that is when they get mad, and I am going to touch on that in a little bit. You simply look at the product and make a face like you just stubbed your two up against something real hard. You say ok thank you never mind, and simply start walking off. Now right here you have two options, because they are going to start throwing some numbers at you that is lower then the price that they gave you. If you say ok thank you never mind, and start walking she is most likely going to grab your arm or your hand and say “Ok how much, please tell me, don’t go how much?”, don’t give her a number like most people do, just say thank you and walk off. That 450 will turn into 350, then 250, then 225, then 180, then 140, and so forth. You can either turn around once you hear a number that you like, which I don’t suggest, or you can walk around the whole floor and come back around when they see you again.

When you walk off and they yell those numbers and you finally come back around to that persons setup, they will approach you again, and this time that 450yuan might just turn into 75 yuan. See, if you would have said 150 yuan to them when they asked you how much, they wouldn’t have agreed to that number right away, they would say ok how about 325. Then they would go lower and lower and lower and then eventually say ok 150 yuan for you when they were willing to go down to 75 yuan. Do you follow me so far? Always walk off the first time you see something you like whenever they give you a price that is too high, and do that to about 4 or 5 little setups where you see something you like at once. One time I walked it, I saw 3 items from 3 different setups I liked on one floor, then a couple more items on all the floors above that floor, because Yashow is 6 floors I believe, and I did that same method. I asked the prices for all of those times that I liked throughout the entire building, I walked off from each setup, and I left to go have lunch. When I came back, they remembered me and their prices were so low that I just went buy and bought each item real quick, didn’t waste any time. That same bargaining method you can use when doing business with them as well, because when it comes to business, they always want to pay you as low as possible for a huge portion of your time. When you negotiate properly, you are able to get what you want, but that is another blog post.

Sometimes the sellers get mad, and I have had that happen to me before. One time I walked up to a setup and the lady was selling clothes. I saw a shirt that I liked and I asked if she had that in black in a size 2XL, she said she wanted to show me something else, so she really didn’t clearly answer my question. I asked her again if she had that shirt in the color and size that I want and she said “yeah yeah, I want to show you something else”. This lady had nothing else  at her booth that I was interested in seeing and she kept trying to show me some other crap that she had, but I asked her politely again if she had that item in the color and size that I wanted because she was not grabbing that item for me, which lead me to believe that she didn’t have it. She kind of snapped at me a little bit, and I said “Ma’am, you have not told me if you have that item or not I am just asking if you have it”, then she really got pissed and yelled something in Chinese at me. I said forget it and started to walk off, and she grabbed on my coat and held on and said “I am sorry please no no I am sorry I am sorry don’t go”. I think she thought I knew Chinese and I understood what she said, which I really didn’t. I told her to let go of me, and she still kept holding on to my coat, I told her again to let go of me and she would not do it. I wanted to push her off of me but if I would have done that, the other Chinese people in the building would have seen that and probably jumped in for her, same rules apply in China as I talked about in Thailand. So I pointed my finger at her and with a stern voice I said “GET YOUR HANDS OFF OF ME NOW!!!”, and she let go. I do not care how trash or great your products are, if you disrespect the customer for no reason then I am not shopping at your establishment ANYMORE. 

When you walk away from a seller because their price is too high, don’t keep coming back because then they get disrespectful and look as you as weak. They respect those who walk off once and they mean what they say. You walk off and come back 4 or 5 times, you are just asking for them to call you names and I have tried this before just as an experiment. I was buying a battery for my DSLR Canon Camera, which still works to this very day, and this one lady was the only one who had that particular battery that I needed. All DSLR batteries are not the same size and she was the only one that had the battery specifically for my camera, but she was charging a lot for it. Of course I walk away and I try to see what she would do if I came back 4 or 5 times, which I do not advise you to do if it is something you need. I only wanted to pay 100 yuan for it ($15 USD), but the price she was giving me was much higher than that and I really had to talk her down. The first time I walked away, she threw numbers that was lower then the price she originally gave but not low enough. I walked around there again just minding my business and she gave another price much lower, but not quite there yet. So I blew her off and said “Ma’am, no thank you it’s ok”, when you talk to them like that, that really get’s them going lol. I came back a 3rd time acting like I was looking at other products at other booths and she came over and said “Ok sir, I will give it to you for 100 yuan”, that was my chance but I said no thank you. When I walked off she told me I was crazy, and when I came back around the 4th time she started calling me crazy man. The 5th time I gave in and said I would buy it but she wanted 125 yuan because she held onto the item for me the whole time and didn’t sell it to nobody else, which she deserved it because nobody else in that whole building had that specific battery. So I paid her the 125 and she said “thanks crazy man”. So that was something that I learned that day.

It wasn’t even a style of bargaining that I learned through trial and error, I went in with that mindset from the jump. This might sound bad but when you go in that market knowing that the majority of the product they are selling is cheaply made and fake, then you just have that attitude whenever you think to buy something. You need clothes, it doesn’t have to be spectacular because you are in a foreign country and the people there don’t care, just as long as it is decent. When you walk in knowing that it isn’t good quality, you just don’t have time for the BS of hearing that a shirt is 450 yuan and you just literally walk off like “I knew I shouldn’t of even bothered to come to this market”. I shopped at the markets because the items in the regular stores in China were not my style and the clothes that they sold in the foreigner’s district were way too overpriced. That is how China is, they make items for America, ship it to them, then when America ships the items back, they charge them a price to ship it back so China has to jack up the price in order to make a profit. All that exclusive name brand clothing that you think is over in China for the low is really not there. Matter fact, I never saw a place to buy authentic Jordan sneakers in China, it was always some store that somebody knew of that wasn’t really out in the open like that, they always had to get it from a plug. So these are just tips on how to bargain whenever you are in China, and not just China, but anywhere in a foreign country. I will explain to you how this ties into business in another blog post.

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