I spend a lot of time in local markets. Filled with local people (merchants & shoppers) it's often shopping and adventure rolled into one.
The largest, and likely most popular, market in Bangkok is Chatuchak Market. It is open only on Sat and Sun which has earned it the name of 'Weekend Market'. It is huge - 35 acres with more than 8000 market stalls and aways bustling with people.
This is mid-afternoon at the market. I can always keep track of Peter because his head is well above all of the Thais!
- Find something that catches my eye.
- Examine, make sure it is of a quality that I could resell. Think "I like it - but will customers at home want to buy it?"
- Price, calculate a price I can pay based on: What will customers at home be willing to pay for this? What will taxes and import duties be (based on product/material). Will shipping be expensive (is it heavy?) Is it made of a natural product that will need to be fumigated? Is it something I will need to pay for it to be correctly labeled for Canadian import?
- Ask the vendor the price, then start the back and forth negotiations to try to get to price I have roughed in my mind that I want to pay. Often the first line of 'attack' is 'mock' shock at the price stated. This usually gets a smile from the seller. Price bargaining can sometimes take along time! The vendor wants to get as much as he can from the sale, I want to get the best price possible to pass on to my customers. The best strategy is to always maintain a sense of humour. Thai's are good business people but above all 'loosing face' by getting upset in public is never acceptable. Sometimes, there can be hours spent with a single vendor, going back and forth with prices, other products I may be interested in appearing from a back storeroom, tea/cold water offered, taking items in and out of my purchase choices based on how the price is coming along.... slowly working towards an agreeable price.
Exhausting - sometimes, yes. A lot of fun - also usually yes.
Some things I actually purchased this year: