If there’s anything I love more than spending hot summer days with an iced latte, browsing the Colaba stalls for outlandish jewellery, it’s doing exactly the same thing with someone who’s visiting from out of town. There’s something about managing to wrangle the best possible price for an item they’ve fallen in love with and watching their faces light up as you do. For those of you who haven’t done it yet, I highly recommend it. Think of yourself as a fashion samaritan doing your good deed for the day. Are you listening, karma?
For a Bombay girl who’s grown up shopping at quaint street side stalls, a good bargain hunt is a walk in the park. A tourist, however, isn’t always as fortunate. Store owners are always on the lookout to make a quick buck, and an out-of-towner can be spotted a mile away and are easy targets for a quick sale at double the price, if not more. While you may think that language would be a barrier to haggling down to the best possible price, you’d be surprised to learn that most of them speak multiple languages, because as traders in the tourist hub of the city, they’re used to selling their wares to people from tens of nationalities every day!
So whether you’re a home gown gal, from another Indian city or from a continent far far away, here’s a guide to getting your bargain on when jewellery shopping at Colaba, not getting ripped off, and walking away victorious like the wise, worldly shopaholic you are:
1. Dress down. Street vendors tend to overcharge if you’re dressed to the hilt, as in their minds, if you look like you can afford expensive product, a few extra hundreds wouldn’t make a difference. And while nobody expects you to go down the grunge route, picking a simple, summery outfit kills two birds with one stone as it also beat the heat. Win/win!
2. The less interested you look, the less adamant the seller will be. They hike up their rates when they see you’re keen, so practice your best poker face and pretend like the item won’t make a difference to your life (even if it goes perfectly with that cute new peplum top and palazzo pants you just bought).
3. Whilst bargaining, quote half the vendor’s asking price, then either settle on Rs. 100 or 10% above that. Remember to give in sometimes as the extra few bucks isn’t worth arguing over. It would mean a lot more to him than it would you. If he is still overcharging or refusing to budge, try this:
4. Smile politely, tell him the item is out of your budget and walk away. This often leads to the seller calling you back for a final bargain where he eventually gives in. Other tricks that go with walking away include telling him you’ve seen the item for less a few shops down the road or in another part of town.
5. Always be polite, respectful and befriend the seller if possible. This will allow you to bring the price down by using the “I’m such an old, loyal customer” tactic. Taking a friend along the next time you visit also shows them that you’re bringing more business to his shop, think his product is good enough to recommend and pushes him in the direction of giving you the best price so as not to argue and keep the new customer you’ve brought him happy.
What do I pay for my baubles, you ask? It may differ from individual to individual, but as a rule of thumb, I follow this little chart when I step out for a dash of bling:
Statement necklaces: Rs. 350-Rs 550
Pendants : Rs. 150-Rs. 250
Rings: Rs. 100-Rs. 300
Bangles and bracelets: Rs.150-Rs. 350
What’s your favourite Colaba find? Share it and your crazy shopping experiences with me in the comments section below!
Photography: James Moore, Anushka Hajela[/one_fourth_last]