How to Negotiate in Chinatown

By Desiree Hamuche

If you are going to buy anything in Chinatown, you need to learn how to haggle. I’ve been haggling since I was a kid, so the women in Chinatown know they face a tough bargain within minutes of meeting me.

“Haggling is an art,” my father used to tell me as a kid and he is right. My Dad spent his entire life haggling as a businessman in Brazil. He still says today that haggling is an art but not everyone can do it.

I put my haggling skills to use on my first day in NYC. On day one, I had to haggle with the broker for my first apartment. It worked. Here are some tips that will teach you how to haggle like a Chinaman in Chinatown.

From the small “I Love NYC” souvenirs to negotiating with your landlord, to haggling over a fake Louis Vuitton Bag, trust me. The haggling tactics are all the same.

Tips BEFORE you head to Chinatown:

1- Know your budget and what you want to buy before you enter the store because once you get inside, you have already been assessed by the Chinatown retailers. You also need to know your overall budget so you can get discounts on multiple items. If you’re buying several items, make sure you ask for a specific group buying discount.

2- If you buy a fake famous brand bag, make sure you do your research on Google. You want to compare quality when you are in Chinatown because not all “fakes” are the same.

3- Don’t rush your purchase. You may need to spend several hours negotiating, depending on what you are buying. If you are with your boyfriend or husband who is telling you to hurry up, leave them on the train.

Tips for WHEN You’re Negotiating:

1- Prepare to be bombarded. As soon as you arrive on Canal Street, you will be swamped with men and women offering to sell you everything imaginable. Get close to them and don’t be afraid to walk with them to a side street. You aren’t going to be murdered in Chinatown during broad daylight. It’s okay to follow them, so they can show you the goods. And if you’re looking for something specific, tell them.  For example, “I’m looking for a Chanel bag, the black one”.

2- You want them to tell you the price first. They will ask you how much you want to pay, but don’t answer it. Instead, ask them what is the price. Wait them out. Sooner or later, they will tell you the price. After they tell you the price, say that’s too much. Tell them I only have “$x” amount of dollars. Don’t be afraid to walk away without the item. They can see the excitement in your eyes, so if you’re an easy read, put on some sunglasses. Once you start walking away, they will follow and offer you another price.

3- Ask for a cash discount even inside the stores. Even if it’s not on sale, ask for a discount and you will be surprised at what they offer.

4- Be confident. Don’t hesitate. Make your own offers. If you want to buy 2 bags and you have 80 bucks,  then tell them that is all you have but you want two.

5- Luggage provides lots of opportunities to haggle because the overhead is so high. And even if you don’t haggle, you will find the prices for luggage in Chinatown are still much cheaper than Macy’s.

If you still don’t feel comfortable enough to negotiate, ask friends who know how to negotiate to go with you. It could be worth the extra money. Now you have a Ph.D. in negotiation. Good luck.

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