The Art of Not Giving a !@#$

Anyone can shop, but not everyone can bargain.

Bargaining in China takes finesse, guile, and a little bit of attitude. First you have to come to terms with the fact that the item you want may or may not be real (I personally like to believe that the items, “fell from the back of the truck” but that’s just me). Second you need determine what you are willing to pay and stick to it. Most importantly, the third rule is to not show interest. In other words, act like you don’t give a damn.

With all this in mind, a small group of us headed down to the notorious Fake Market on 南京西路 (West Nanjing Road) early Saturday afternoon. We’ve been here over a month now, and it was time to put my skills to the test. Four stories of “Gucci, Gucci, Louis, Louis, Fendi, Fendi, Prada” and other “name brand” goodies awaited our purchase…Challenge accepted!

The soliciting begins as soon as we walked through the door. Men and women alike called for our attention, fighting to get us behind the “secret” closed doors. And once you step in their office, the real work begins. Remember: restrain all excitement from surfacing your face. One must master the art of not giving a !@#$ to get what thou wants.

With my voluminous curly hair and cappuccino-colored skin, it is obvious I am not a native Chinese girl. But when it comes to buying-and-selling, all cultural or linguistic barriers are demolished. Nonetheless, utilizing whatever mandarin phrases you know is quite helpful. Simply using:“太贵了!(tai gui le! = too expensive!)” or “ 你疯了?! (Ni feng le?! =Are you crazy?!)” clearly gets the message across that you mean business. The exchange can take up to a half an hour. The banter between merchant and customer is like a game of cat and mouse. Where the merchant or “the ‘cat’ is unable to secure a definitive victory over the ‘mouse’ [the customer], who despite not being able to defeat the cat, is able to avoid capture.” [1] It is without a doubt the liveliest game you will ever play, and the reward is so sweet. If you succeed in the exercise of comprising, not only do you take home goodies, but also you have now become that much greater in the Art of Not Giving a !@#$. So, congratulations my friend, you have bargained yourself a Chanel purse, a Long Champ bag, and a Chanel wallet all for less than the average price of a pair of Jessica Simpson heels!

Nice shopping!