I have my favorite vendors. We all do. For me, the criterion for being a favored vendor doesn’t have much to do with selection because very often what one stall offers another one nearby will have very similar merchandise. My favored vendors exchange my smile for their smile. They exude patience and interest in what I’m looking at and are willing to negotiate with their calculator in hand. It is very rare to see things marked with a price in these stalls. This allows the vendor to size up the potential buyer. I am getting quite adept at spotting someone trying to snag my expected fair-skinned wealth.
Negotiating goes something like this:
“Zhege duoshao qian?” - How much is this?
The seller reaches for a hand held calculator and “plinks” in a price, facing the calculator in my direction.
Now it’s my turn to scoff and shake my head in disgust at the ridiculous price. (Usually rightfully so.)
“Tai gui le!”, I say indignantly – Too expensive!
Next I counter-offer by clearing their entry and “plinking” in one third of what they just “plinked.”
They shake their head in disgust (usually rightfully so,) and the negotiating is underway.
They counter with another number which they have now deemed the “friend price,” (because for some reason we’re now friends?) I counter with a little bit more and they are still disgusted. They counter with a little less. Back and forth until eventually they start the, “Okay, Okay. You give me best price.” If I raise it and say that this is my best price, they might agree, but most times they still only lower their price a little and now extol the virtues of this very ‘high quality’ piece and why it must be at their price.
Eventually, maybe we’ve settled…maybe not and if not, I begin to walk away.
Depending on their sales hunger that day they either chase me down with “Okay! Okay!” or they don’t.
The Big Guy advises to pre-determine a bottom line and NEED for the item. He says there is an acceptable price and a walking away price. You should know both going in.
This is great fun sometimes and exhausting at other times.
Once the price is determined they slam my purchases into a flimsy plastic sack in disgust. I skip away merrily swinging my bag of treasure that I had to have. I have won – I think. If I’ve walked away instead, I can try negotiating again at a nearby stall. Our negotiating skills are sharpening. The Big Guy arrived with a slew of them well-honed by his FORD - Purchasing experience but even he admits they have been improved by the frequent market visits.
In addition, we’ve adopted an aloof demeanor and glide by hawking vendors who bark:
“Hey Lady! “
or “Hey Boss!”
“Good Price for You!”
The clothing stall vendors take one look at my non-petite Asian frame and retort with
“Scarves, Lady?” [I mean who can’t FIT into a scarf?]
We have witnessed sales of many fake items and knock-offs for more than 2 years. The list is endless: bags, watches, DVD’s, I-phone accessories, jewelry, backpacks, luggage and clothing. We’ve been whisked off to back rooms and watched as walls turned into doors and then into secret compartments of the ‘good stuff.’ We’ve traipsed into seedy apartments stocked with merchandise. The quality is questionable but 70% of the time it’s passable. It could be a total knock-off or it could have been manufactured when the shift was over and the line kept running with the end products being heaped into a truck. “Same-Same – But Different.”
Manufactured goods are not the only things that can be “Same-Same – But Different.”
Once our toe-sies were rose-ied, we began our exploration to find the Hard Rock in Nanjing.
We were welcomed into a cozy wooden floored bar space with wooden booths and TV screens. Taylor Swift wailed away above our heads. So far, so good! The Hard Rock logo was emblazoned on much of the décor in its familiar font.
Rock and Roll memorabilia graced each wall.
Gliding past it all we landed in the Chinese lucky number #8 booth.
This was the Hard Rock, right?
Next the Food Menu – 4 choices:
a Chicken dish
a Pork dish
another Pork dish
a third Pork dish
That should have been our cue to walk out, like the two groups of patrons that came in right after us. They sat down, had the menu explained to them and walked out.
Without a car, driver or any other restaurant choices in sight, we didn’t have the option of escaping. So we politely ordered and paid up front. That should have been another clue of what was to come.
The meals came in a cafeteria style divided plate with bok choy and rice and included a soft drink for 28rmb/ $5 USD.
The price was reasonable.
The food was not. I had two bites of mine and two bites of Stefanie’s for comparison and she did the same. Oh well!