Ilocanos have been ruthlessly called kuripot most of the times.
Though we must not stereotype, it is undeniable that this will always be stuck in our culture. Personally, I can say that they are not really kuripot. They just want to balance their finances just like everyone else. Truth be told, my Ilocana mom is good with juggling the home’s finances.
We are four siblings and my father was a jeepney driver. As I look back, it amazes me how my mom kept our finances afloat. Thankfully, she is an expert haggler and I have seen her buy stuff at half the original price.
Here are 15 haggling tips I got from her.
- Be the Buena Mano
My mom wakes up at 3 am to go to the market. This is to get the freshest vegetables and meat in the market and avoid the crowd. Another reason is the Buena Mano concept. Buena Mano is a Spanish phrase which literally means "good hands". Most sellers believe that the first successful sale can bring good luck.
Failure to close the deal with the first customer can make the day’s sale dry. Take advantage of this. If you think that you are the first buyer, your request is more likely to be granted.
- Look for Any Damage
Every time my mom shops in surplus shops or even in ukay-ukay, she will closely inspect the items. This is why most expert hagglers in such shops take a long time. They look for bearable damage such as a washable stain or a slight overrun.
Spotted damages can give you the right to haggle boldly. And since the seller wants to dispatch damaged goods, they will be willing to give it at a lower price.
- Look the Part
Every time my mom goes to the market, she usually wears a worn-out shirt, shorts, and slippers. Dress like you don’t have much money. It is usual for the seller to eye their buyers and mentally note their possible paying capacity. If you look like a donya, then expect prices for a royalty.
- Have a Target Price
Shop around and know what other stores charge. Then, decide on which price you are ready to buy the item. My mom walks around other stalls before she decides to haggle on her chosen shop. This way she will have the range of prices she’d be willing to accept.
- Strike at the Half Price
Start with 50% off then increase the price gradually. This is my mom’s usual trick. If you have ever been to big markets such as in Balintawak or Baguio, you will be surprised with this practice. Buyers will start haggling at half the price and the seller will lower it little by little. They continue haggling until they deal with an amount favorable to both parties.
- Show Expertise
My mom is a frequent buyer in the local market. She usually reminds the sellers how much the previous price on their items was and if the quality of their fish, meat, vegetable, and fruits are good enough for the current offered price.
Sellers respect buyers with good knowledge of the product. They will also have an impression that you already know how much will be a good deal so they will not bother with the higher price anymore.
- Be Pakipot
Do not show too much enthusiasm. No matter how much you want to buy it, keep your cool. Why? Because if the seller knows that you want it, they will know that you will still buy it even if the price is higher than you want. They will even entice you more with the quality and features of the product.
- Find a Suki
Sellers give lower prices to their patrons. If you always buy from them, they will give you a better deal. Sometimes they will even throw in freebies. Let’s say you bought a ½ kilo of pork belly. Your suki can let you have a few more grams for free.
Expert Tip: Having a suki for your daily shopping needs has more advantages than you think.
Mom said that if you have a suki, they tend to be more honest. If you forgot an item, they keep it for you. If your money is not enough, they can just top up the balance on your next purchase.
- Buy Multiple Items
Take a look around the shop. If you need to buy a couple of items, ask the seller if you can have a discount. Do not hesitate to point out that you could have bought such items elsewhere. Sellers in the market and even local boutiques are willing to give a better deal especially if you have bought in bulk.
Ask if “May bawas ba?” or if you can get a free item thrown in. My mom uses this trick when buying in Divisoria during the Christmas season. Sometimes you will even see signs in shops saying “Buy 5, Get 1 Free.”
- Show the Money
Show how much you only have. Take note to keep your larger bills away from the seller’s sight. If the seller keeps on declining your bid, show your money in your palm. Say that this is your last offer. However, be sure that the amount is sensible. You are haggling to buy an item without making your seller out of the business.
When they see your palm wide open with cash, they will be tempted to get it. Also, they will know that this is your last offer.
- Shop Before Closing Time
Sellers give closing prices to avoid wasting perishable products. There are also shopkeepers who will want to reach their sales quota before packing up. If you show up just in time, you can easily strike a good deal.
- Keep It Fun
Approach haggling with a sense of humor. My mom never argues with a seller. She would keep a smile and a friendly tone when haggling. You can even use a bit of flattering. While haggling literally means “to argue,” you do not have to turn it into a war game.
Be courteous because the seller just wants to earn decently. If you are rude, then you’ll lose the chance to bargain even before you start.
Expert Tip: Use the local dialect.
Every time my mom learns that the seller is also an Ilokano, she shifts her language into their mother tongue. She would ask a bit about the seller’s background, chats a little, then goes back to haggling. It usually works like magic.
If you are a tourist shopping in the local market, learn the basic words which denote respect.
- Hint that You Will Refer Them
Every seller wants more customers. Flattering the seller and promising more sales can get you a good deal. Of course, if you really liked shopping there, you can tell your family and friends about it. Then make sure that they will mention to the seller that you referred them. This way you are building a good rapport.
- Ask for the Last Price
Save time and know if it actually fits your budget. Asking for the last offered price automatically tells you if it is a good deal for you. Since this is the last price, you will have little chance to haggle any further. On the other hand, it is useful if you don’t have much time.
- Walk Away
Be brave to walk away.
Hint to the seller that other shops have better offers. At this point, there is no going back. Say your last bid and if you are still declined, then just walk away. The last offered price the seller hollers at you is the best offer you can get. It is up to you if you will grab it.
The Power of Haggling
When I was younger, I felt uncomfortable with haggling. I thought that sellers would think that I am rude. However, as I grow up and start having my own family, I have learned that haggling is a handy skill to make your budget more workable. Haggling makes things more affordable just like it did to my mom.
Sellers always expect to haggle with their buyers. Unless they are at the mall where the price will always be fixed in a tag. I realized that sellers will not offer an amount that will not give them any profit. They can freely reject any bids less than the worth of their items.
In addition, haggling is not only limited for face-to-face purchases. We can also use it for online shopping! Aside from online shops, Facebook has buy-and-sell groups who welcome hagglers and active buyers.
It might take time to be an expert, but it can surely save your money in the long run. Happy haggling!
Got some haggling stories and tips? Share it in the comments section below!