(Outside of the Pearl Market)
(Claremarie's new "UGGS")
What do you picture when you think about shopping in China? For me, the Pearl Market was a small space where several Chinese people set up their tables, haggled with shoppers and sold jewelry made with pearls...that's what I pictured.....that's so not what it is!!
I don't know if I wasn't listening when my cousin talked of the shopping in Beijing or if she didn't do it justice in her stories but the Pearl Market is definitely not a table on the side of the street....try an eight-story building with each floor dedicated to a particular product (i.e. 1st floor-Chinese trinkets, 2nd floor-Clothing, 3rd floor-Fabric and Scarves, 4th floor-Purses, 5th floor-Electronics, 6th floor-Jewelry, 7th floor-Exclusive Jewelry). Each floor is full of little booths, many of whom have the same or similar products, and (mostly) Chinese women trying to get you to come into their area and shop.
It was quite an experience for the girl who DOES NOT like to bargain. In fact, if I'm at a garage sale here and the price tag says make an offer, no matter how much I want the item, I will just put it back down. I HATE HAGGLING!! But, that is how it is done in China. Luckily I had my secret weapon with me otherwise I would have financed many of these people's booths for years if I had paid what they wanted me to.
Here's kind of how it went....
Kristina and I would walk up to a booth and the sales people's eyes would light up as only they can when two Americans stop to shop. Then came the inevitable questions (say these in your best Chinese accent).
"What you looking for lady?"
"You like this (as they hold up one purse after another)?"
"How about this?"
"How much you give me for this?"
Then if we would start to walk away they would say, usually as they grabbed our arms,
"Next booth have same stuff. We all have same stuff."
It got kind of intense at times. One time a little lady physically held me in her booth by my arm and would not let me leave. Another time my shopping bags were literally ripped out of my arms as I was trying to walk away.
This was a bit overwhelming, even for one who prides herself on being an amazing shopper. (Remember I was expecting a table on the street.) So, Kristina suggested that as we walked up to a booth we just kind of ignore them until we figured out if there was something I wanted to buy. Then once I decided on what I wanted for sure, she sent me on ahead to the next booth and she started bargaining with them......in Chinese! They didn't see that coming!! The way their faces fell was priceless but they recovered quickly (saved face) and would always say,
"Since you learn our language we give you best price. Remember us next time.
Bring you friends here."
(Claremarie's new "UGGS")
An awesome example of the power of Kristina's bargaining...
I was looking at a little boy's Chinese outfit for Camden and it was marked 1,100 quai (which is about $150 US dollars). I just figured it was out of my price range. Kristina asked me if I really wanted it and I said yes. She went to work and I ended up paying 35 quai (about $5 US). I felt kind of bad about it later but K assured me that they wouldn't have sold it to me that cheap if they still weren't making money on it.
Shopping was most definitely an amazing part of my adventure and I was able to persevere :-) enough to come home with many treasures. As you can tell from one of my previous posts, purses were my downfall.
(Bought this for my mom...this girl made it while I waited.)