Bartering Tips For Shopping in an Open Market

In many countries, open market vendors expect customers to barter and a customer who doesn’t barter will overpay.

I’m at a disadvantage since bartering isn’t a part of everyday culture and to be successful, I’ve had to be a little creative.  Here are some bartering tips that I’ve picked by creating various bartering personalities.

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Take your time.  Showing interest in a product cues the salesmen to begin the bartering process with an offer.

Limit emotional displays.  Bartering is a poker match – don’t let the vendor to see your hand.  At any sign of uncertainty, the vendor will pour on the pressure.  She may lead you to a register or put the item in a bag.

Remain uncommitted and make a counter offer.  If, denied take another look at the item as if examining quality.  Pause over any detail that could be interpreted as a flaw in the design.  Wrinkle your brow during your inspection.  Repeat your offer and pull out the exact amount.  It will take a strong salesman to ignore money for the taking.


To prepare for this roll, separate your money into different pockets.  The amount in each pocket should reflect how much you want to spend.

When the vendor gives you the price, pull the money out of a pocket and count it.  Place your hands in your other pockets as if searching for additional funds.  Of course, you know how much is in each pocket and you only pull out the amount you want to offer.

Tell the vendor you don’t have any more money and offer what you have.

I’ve been successful many times using this method.  If I have a friend with me, I pull out even less money.  Then, I ask my friend for the difference.  As planned, they are also broke and only have a few extra dollars to add.  This is my final offer to the salesman.


As a rushed shopper, I have a friend pretend that we are running late to catch our bus or flight.

As she fusses at me to hurry up and make a decision, I choose the item that I want and ask for the price.  I make my counter offer.If he doesn’t agree, I ask about another item.

As my friend picks up things to show me, I look uncertain.  She says that maybe we should try to run back to the “other vendor” to get the same item that I saw there.  I mull over the idea and turn as if I’m going to leave.

If the vendor doesn’t stop me from leaving, I tell her that we don’t have time and I make a final attempt, raising the offer to my limit.


As a souvenir hunter, I’m a shopper with a list of people to buy for.  This is good for those who see a number things that they are interested in.

I ask for the price of two items individually and then ask for a price if I buy both.  I counter.

If there is something else I want, I add it at this time.  Then I ask for the best deal for all the items I have.

If I’m with a friend, she’ll turn up her nose at an item and attempt to discourage me from purchasing so much.  She’ll warn that “Kayla” will probably not like that item or that she remembers seeing it cheaper at another vendor. You’ll take a second look at the souvenir as if reconsidering, but tell your friend, that you’re going to get a great price for the items.

The vendor will oblige.  I’ve gotten really good deals using this method.


  • Have a preset limit based on what you’re buying.  Always make an offer below your limit, so you’ll have some wiggle room.  Don’t go over.
  • Don’t counter with too low of an offer.  Take 1/2 – 1/3 off the price that the vendor quoted you.
  • Take a friend.  They make a good supporting cast.  Make sure that all your rehearsed conversations happen in front of the vendor.
  • Rehearse!  Practice makes perfect.  The more you barter, the better you’ll get.
  • Loosen up and have fun!  And if you aren’t successful in one place, try another vendor.  Many times, you can find the exact same or a very similar item.

The art of bartering takes practice.  The best way to start is to jump right in and give it a try.

Did I miss something?  Share more bartering tips below!