26 July 2007

Shopping? I'm there!

Visiting the market was a highlight of my time in Beijing. Anyone who knows my family's legacy of shopaholics should not be surprised!

As soon as Tracy told me that tailored suits could be made a reasonable prices, I had to have one! My beloved suit took us to the market three times (pick out material, first fitting, final fitting). The final product is pretty amazing, and...well...looks made just for me. It ended up just being an excuse to come to this fascinating place.

The market we frequented was an indoor market with 5 floors of vendors. Each floor has a general theme (bags and shoes, women's clothes, men's clothes, jewelry and salons). With few exceptions, any given item can be found at 5 or more stores. Supply is definitely in the buyer's favor. The people working at the stalls sometimes rotated between stores and always remembered us. With 7.5RMB to 1USD, we could have a good time finding fun stuff for a pretty reasonable price.

Some of the vendors were particularly aggressive while others waited until you entered the stall. I can't tell you how many times I heard "Hello. Lady, you need ______. Which one do you want? I give you good price, Lady." Taking more than a .25 second glance at something was interpreted by the vendors as wanting something. Touch something, and you should be prepared to negotiate for it or have a good excuse for not wanting it.

Negotiating price was generally fun, and almost always followed the same pattern. At some point, the vendor would tell me to stop joking and offer a real price. And at least once, I would start to walk away. The less you want something, the more likely you'll get it. Tracy was particularly skilled at getting her desired price. We were both told at least once that we were tough bargainers. I'll take that as a compliment, thank you very much.

I'd love to tell you about the fun stuff that I got at the market, but many of you will see these things when Santa comes next December. Rest assured that I had a fun time picking them out!

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