Prada anyone?

“Hey lady, wanta Louie?  I give you good price!”  The Silk Market haggling is legendary for jiade “fake” merchandise and not to be missed in Beijing.  Floor after floor of anything you could want but primarily designer branded items fill the space along with the overly aggressive primarily female sales staff in each booth.  I went with two of my team members-males really get the royal treatment by the ladies who physically grab various parts of their bodies to make a point and a deal.  The bidding starts high and the negotiations are done on a large calculator, which for some reason was usually pink.  Some English is spoken but primarily they put in “special friend price for you” on the calculator at say 2500 RMB and you counter with 20 RMB and then the bargaining gets going, with the final price usually 90% less than the original price. 

My team member who speaks Mandarin asked for the “special stuff” so we were taken down into the basement, out into a parking garage and shown to the back of a hatchback where the “special stuff” was kept–too good of a price to be in the real store they told us.  We squatted on plastic stools (my two team members are substantial and I thought for sure would end up flattening the things but they held up) and we proceeded to be shown a parade of Prada, Tods, Gucci, Chanel, LV, etc. handbags of only the finest quality streaming out of the back of the car.  I was glad to have already spent all my cash (no credit cards accepted of course) on my wonderful husband (Barcelona Nike outfit and an Omega watch-worth $3,000 but, for me, only $60) but my team mates ended up buying several lovely bags for their friends and co-workers back home.  You do get better pricing by buying multiple items from the same vendor. 

Best practice–know exactly what you want to pay for the item you are seeking, have pictures of the designer’s actual product that you want, and start way below that desired price, knowing you will have to put in about 3-4 higher prices into the calculator and then just walk away to seal the deal.  Trust me, they will follow you down the aisles shouting at you-“-best offer xxxx, you come back now!”  Then, there will be a big show that you got a screaming deal (even if you didn’t) with many pleas to be quiet about the price, lest others get such a bargain and cries of “you’re killing me, lady” to express their pain to sell it to you at such a ridiculously low price. 

Regretfully, I got the shopping bug and went back on my own with some cash to get a few items before leaving town.  My new Tumi leather briefcase was definitely worth all the drama that it took to secure my very own screaming deal.


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