It is best to look around first and compare prices, since they vary even within this "mall" where many shops seem to have the same merchandise. You might want to ask a local what the going prices are for certain items. Since prices for whites are often 25-50% higher, it is good to have a Ugandan friend with you, or to bargain yourself. Consider getting small gifts for your donors, such as wooden letter openers and other handicrafts.
To get an idea of the variety of merchandise and their prices in the West, you can visit these web sites:
In many countries (all over the third world and also over much of Mediterranean Europe), you will be constantly expected to barter and bargain in the marketplace. The generally agreed prices can vary anywhere from one eighth to one half of what you would normally expect to pay for them in the shops or in the west. Barter with a smile and in good spirit, but remember that it is always your own responsibility to be assertive and to not let yourself get ripped off. Most of us feel uncomfortable when negotiating a price or bartering. It is not a big part of western culture so we are not used to doing it. Don't feel uncomfortable with it as it is just part of their culture and it can be a very enjoyable part of your trip experience. Since prices for whites are often 25-50% higher, it is good to have a Ugandan friend with you, or to bargain yourself. First you will want to look around and get and idea what prices are on items. You might want to ask a local what the going prices are for certain items. Sometimes it is helpful to have someone else keeping the shop keeper busy while you just look around and listen. Consider getting small gifts for your donors, such as wooden letter openers and other handicrafts.
It is also entirely the sale merchant's responsibility not to sell at a loss, some of them may have decades of selling experience behind them. It makes sense for them to make as profitable of an exchange as they can. If you have made a good bargain for yourself, they may try to play heavily on your guilt as you walk away by saying something like "you're taking the shoes of my children's feet!" Remember these people don't sell at a loss. If someone tries to make a bargain with you which is unfair or seems untrustworthy, simply say "no thank you" and calmly walk away. It is easy to get ripped off if you are unfamiliar with the currency. Get used to mentally converting their currency into the currency you are used to. So when they say "18,000 Uganda Shillings" you can think "that is about 10 US dollars - is it worth that to me?".
The people who you barter with will be very comfortable and experienced at it, so there are a number of steps you should follow - to begin with, decide on a price that you are willing to pay before you ask the price and start bartering, and do not go over this price.
When the barter starts the seller will either, say to you "How much will you pay?" or they will give you a price. Either way the ball is in your court and you have to continue with the barter.
As a rough guide the seller will inflate the price by as much as 50-100 percent. In simple terms the price that you are first given is often twice the price they will actually take. You have to use your judgment on this but it is quite effective as a rough guide.
If you were asked how much you would pay, offer half the amount you originally decided you would pay for the item. This can feel particularly uncomfortable as the seller often appears offended by this sum. However, they are experienced in bartering and would probably have had the same reaction to whatever figure you had suggested.
Once the initial figures have been discussed you can increase on your price and the seller can come down on their price. Eventually you will meet somewhere in the middle at a price both of you are happy with. Remember to increase your price in small amounts or you will end up paying more than you needed too.
Don't seem too interested. Sometimes the psychological nudge is to walk away. If you cannot negotiate a price that suits both you and the seller and the seller lets you walk away, you know at this point they really aren't making a profit. It is very unlikely that a seller would let a sale get away from them if they stand to make a profit. So, if you portray confidence and don't express too much interest you will be able to negotiate a lower price that suits both parties. With a little patience and practice, bartering becomes a very enjoyable part of a purchase.
Sometimes it may be to your advantage to have someone used to the language and culture do the bargaining for you. Prices for "tourists" are usually inflated. Shopping with my daughter in Hungary, the vendors quickly come down when she starts speaking their language. It is a bad practice to just pay whatever price the seller asks. This leads to high inflation as the seller bases their initial price on around twice the actual value. On the other hand, don't quibble over pennies - my son had a street vendor in Thailand walk away over 300 Baht, it was only about a five cents difference.
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