by Toffler



Shopping, Bargaining, etc in Shanghai

October 23, 2006, by TofflerN, category Knowledge and Experiences, Uncategorized

Today I decided to go shopping. No, not ‘research,’ actually shopping. And I’m not sure why I decide to cause myself frustration as I go to the same place to look for shoes in my size when multiple times previously they haven’t had my size. I kinda feel like the ugly, gangly step-sisters in Cinderella trying to fit into the too small shoes. Just a little more, maybe if I just squish my heel in, or stretch out the shoes, or well, lets just cut off a few toes. Haha. It wasn’t actually so bad. I did buy 2 pairs, but I must have looked at thousands of pairs and asked about 20 and tried on at least 6 pairs. And this is even after I know the likelihood they’ll have my size is minimal, at best.

I was very pleased though as I think I figured out a new, more effective way to avoid being followed around and asked: ‘What you want to buy lady? Shoes? Watch? Bag? Louis-Vuitton, Gucci, Prada? DVD? I got it for you. … What you look for missy? … Lady, I your friend. I help you find it.’ Ignore them! and look completely exhausted (or seem deaf) when they talk to you. They get over the game real fast when they realize they’re talking to themselves. I found this method to be much more effective (at this location, at least) than telling them, ‘不要。 我不要买。 我不要你帮我。 我 不要你陪我。’ Basically, I don’t want it. I don’t want you to help me. Although, after they’ve been following me for about 30-40minutes and I get so fed up that I start yelling loud enough and in good enough Chinese that other shop keepers can hear and then the follower loses face. So they don’t continue to lose face in front of others, they disappear very quickly. What’s the point of having these touts offer to find you stuff and then drag you around the shopping area? It defeats the purpose of shopping and enjoying looking yourself. Anyway: IGNORE THEM! Good plan.

Today as I was paying for things I had bargained pretty aggressively for, including walking away multiple times, I was told ‘阿,你很厉害。 你比中国人很厉害。’ That means you are very fierce or you’re very strong. Basically that I bargain hard. On lady even told me that I bargain harder than Chinese people. Yay for me! Guess that means I got a good deal. 😉 All the more reason you need me to help you Shop My Shanghai! In the early stages of learning to bargain in SH, you feel that when the woman starts out at over RMB 400 for a pair of shoes, there’s no way she’ll ever get down to an acceptable price range (RMB50-120). But after my experience at Yu Garden, I know it’s possible. (Yu Garden: Offered ‘Two Ming Dynasty, hand-painted bowls’ for RMB400 each. After leaving and walking around for another 45minutes, then casually passing the location again, I was offered them for RMB10 each. What a discount!) Eventually the shoe lady did get down to a reasonable price range, but by then she had tried my patience too much and I wasn’t going to support her attempt to rip off foreigners.

Its funny being a foreigner who speaks Chinese because you know when they’re talking about you as you understand key phrases like ‘lao wai’ or ‘waiguoren’ and then your ears perk up. As your Chinese becomes more advanced, you can actually understand what they’re saying about you. I can’t wait till the day when I can understand the entire conversation and give more than just a look but rather a full, accurate, curt remark. Until then, I’m stuck saying, ‘Yes, I’m a lao wai. I’m from the US. I speak Chinese.’

It rained over the weekend, which is always nice because after the rain, the air is cleaner and the sky is clearer. This time, I think we made a serious turn towards winter. Today, despite a very sunny day, there was a definite chill in the air. People were donning everything from t-shirts to full winter jackets and scarves. I admit I wore a sweatshirt for the first time since arriving and it was quite nice.

Enjoying the cool weather, my new purchases, my Mandarin ability, and my lihai bargaining skills…

One Comment

  1. Elva |

    I’m curious to know if the two ladies in the shop talked to each other in Mandarine. Usually, shop assistnats in Shanghai prefer having conversations in Shanghai Dialect. If so, congrats! You can understand another foreign language now:)
    I really envy your bargaining ability! Frankly, I am such a bad negiator!I’d like to go shopping with you one day and learn some skills from you!!!

So, what do you think ?