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Haggling Makes the World Go 'Round

Saturday, November 20, 2010
Name a culture that doesn't haggle or bargain.  Bet you can't.

Like the retail snob I'm not willing to admit that I am (sigh), I find myself getting irritated sometimes when people walk into my small store and try to negotiate.  "All items are priced as marked," I say with a I inwardly mumble about how they wouldn't try that at Nordy's.  But I'm a traditional retailer, albeit a small one, and I have really good prices.  Sales even.  I have garage sales at my house and my store isn't in a flea market.  Now that would be different.

Today and for the first time ever, I went to the world famous Les Puces (the fleas) also known as the Paris Flea Market at Porte de Clingancourt and even before I got into the meat of the 7 hectares (!) of antiques and vintage clothing, I had to pass through rows and rows of stalls of clothing, shoes and other goodies on the periphery of Les Puces that were being sold by mostly African and North African males.  "Entrez, mademoiselle, entrez," the smiling hucksters beckoned as I walked by.  "Non, merci," I gently replied...and kept it moving. 

Some of the stalls on the periphery of Les Puces.
This post is not about the antiques and vintage designer clothing I saw, so I will not even attempt to express why my eyes bugged out every 15 seconds of my 3 hour visit.  A, because I can't.  And B, well, I just can't.  I saw beautiful antiques and chandeliers and paintings I had never seen before and realized that shopping amongst 17th century antiquities makes me feel really young.  (What's going to happen when I go to Africa?!) 

A miniscule part of Les Puces.
Real vintage shoes.
And without covering even 1/100th of the over 700,000 square meters of the European history on display, I thought someone was going to have to pick me up off of the floor and give me smelling salts after looking at vintage Chanel, Dolce&Gabbana, Hermes, Ferragamo, Gaultier and more.  *Genuflecting.*  "Ne toucher pas" signs were everywhere.  Who cares?  I just wanted to look.  But I digress.  This post is about haggling.  *Deep breath.*

Watching people bargain today (I didn't do any) reminded me that haggling is a part of just about every culture in the world.  The Chinese do it.  Africans do it.  The French do it.  Brazilians do it.  Americans do it.  Shoot, businessmen and women do it.  Everyone does it.  It's a global phenomenon that makes the world go around.  We haggle for cars, houses and with the guy that brings the hot items to the beauty salon.  There are even online videos and online articles about how to bargain well.  We all have so much in common.

I suppose this is just another example of how similar we all are.  Nothing new...but interesting to take note of.  Guess I'll try not to get my panties in a bunch the next time someone wants to haggle.  I'll just send them on over to Nordy's.   :-P

Photo Source:

"On Saturdays the Masai Market is set up in downtown Nairobi where locals and tourists can bargain for a variety of goods. Bargaining is an acquired skill, and requires several visits to the market to get it right."
Dongxiang men haggling over sheep in Gansu province, China.
Photo source:  Wiki

Bargaining at Sabzi Mandi (vegetable market), Shimla, Himachal Pradesh, India
Photo Source:



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