Let’s make a deal

It’s not only Nigerians who can claim this, but we immigrants love to get a bargain. it’s not our fault though: we all know you can bargain anything in Naija (or you could when I was last there). And in fact, playing the bargaining game is part of the fun of shopping, especially in the market.

Parents or older folks are more adamant about bargaining, no matter where they are, it seems. For example, I was at the dollar store one day (everything in this store is one dollar or lower; it was a correct dollar store sha) and I saw a man asking the cashier if he could get a better deal on his purchases since he was buying so many things. Too bad he didn’t look around and see the rest of us with our full shopping carts, scooping up these one dollar bargains like the end of the world was near.

While some of us might be more timid about asking for a discount, or trying to get a bargain, and the rest of us might just be too lazy to try, our parents are usually less shy. I can understand trying to bargain when you’re dealing with somebody who is selling something on their own, and not as part of a larger corporation. But when you’re trying to buy something at a store that has their prices clearly posted around the place and in their flyers, my philosophy is you either buy it, wait for it to go on sale, or steal it (joke). My mom sha, she’ll sometimes try to see if she can get a deal:

Sign beside sweater says it costs $50
My mom: Hello, how much is this sweater?
Store clerk: Oh, it’s $50 ma’am
My mom: Hmmm, that is expensive.
Store clerk: *uncertain giggle*
My sister or I: Moooooom!
My mom: Is it on sale?
Store clerk: Sorry, it’s still regular price.
My mom: Oh, that’s a shame. It’s really nice.
Store clerk: *uncertain giggle*
My sister or I: Moooom! It’s not on sale. You know that. Can we leave now? Ugh!

I don’t think my mom has paid full price for many things in her life.

My dad is the same, but his technique is more of the “we’re brothers now” tactic. So, when he hired someone to do some odd maintenance around the house, for example, and they are discussing the cost, he slapped the guy on the back in a friendly manner and said “Oh, come now, you’ll accept $X right?” (where X is significantly less than what they are charging). He often ends up getting some sort of bargain sha, not as low as he suggests, of course, but that’s how bargaining works. My parents’ motto when it comes to negotiating and bargaining is It’s always worth a try!

Me, I like to wait for those sales where things are discounted by 50% or more. Anything else just feels like I’m paying too much. I love reading flyers on the weekend and seeing what random item I can get on sale. It doesn’t even matter whether I need the item or not: if it’s on sale by 75% or more, I will likely buy it.

My parents and I sometimes fight because although I love bargains, I do not try to bargain with the seller, even with big ticket items. Their problem with this is that buying big ticket items like electronics or cars or houses are great opportunities to bargain, even in Oyinboland. It is the one time where you can ask if they’ll throw in a trunk organizer with the car you’re purchasing and they won’t look at you and wonder where you are from. When you are buying a computer, that’s the time to ask if they can give you the printer or laptop bag for free. But me, I just wait for the camera or television or car to be at an unbelievable price before buying it. I’m still waiting sha.

What have you learned about bargaining from your parents or family? Are you a bargain shopper?

25 thoughts on “Let’s make a deal

  1. Hmmm, bargain buying!

    I remember going to the market with my mum when i was younger, i used to feel sorry for the ppl she bought stuff from. She always used to buy @ less than half of the initial price, although the haggling process could take forever.

    I for one have never had the patience to "price".

    If i see an item i like, i always check the value/quality against the price, if i feel it's not worth it, i don't bother, but if i know it's worth it, but it's expensive, i'll just wait and hope and pray that it's still around when sales come along.

    As for shopping in the market, i just ask you what your price is, and i tell you how much i;m willing to pay. This usually irritates the hell outta ppl who go shopping with me sha, but i really don't have the patience to haggle or recieve curses from some market folk.

    Now i've gotten used to going to the store, pushing my trolley along and whipping out my card @ the counter.

    My mother is going to be royally disappointed when i get home, cuz i'll be far worse!

  2. even with America, I still know how to bargain my way if the occasion calls for it, i.e craigslist, or farmer's market.

    my mom is usually the sneaky bargainer, she would coax you into sellin ur stuff for less than 50% of the price.

    my dad is just annoying with it. you dont want to be beside him when he does it!

  3. From my mom I learnt that if u wana shop in nigeria without being swerved you have to bargain for a little over 50% of th eprice you're told because sellers usually inflate the price purposely to catch unknowing peeps like u! and here in naij there's no sale to wait for so….

  4. Mennnnnnn my mum can like to embarras one with all that bargaining oh..

    i personally feel embarrased bargaining but recently i went to river island and saw a top I loved for £30, When I checked the extra buttons were not on the one that was my size, I tot of stealing them from the smaller sized ones but then asked the sales babe who asked her manager, guess what…..I got it for £25….embarrasing yes…but def a bargain…

  5. With bargaining, I think as you grow older you get better.

    I buy 80% of what I need on some sort of sale or deal. As long as its not urgent, I'll wait till I get the best deal.

    When it come to one on one bargaining, I always like to have an idea of the cost of what I want to buy b4 hand. This helps me know how much 2 start bargaining @.

    My mum asks for a bargain on almost everything.

    From her I have learnt that you can get a bargain on almost everything, and asking wont hurt.

  6. i love to bargain, which is why I would suffer the stress of the open markets (Balogun) just so I can get the best of prices. The really annoying thing though is that, most times, somes traders place the prices so high cos they know that the buyers will beat down the prices, and at the end of the day, you just might be buying it for the real price, or a little higher. if i hear 7k for something, and i say 3k5 and u argue a little and say pay, i'm walking away. if you can sell for 3k5, y tell me 7k? get my gist?

    then i also love waiting for sales at these boutiques on Opebi Allen. when im passing by, I take note of which stores are offering up to 50, 60% discount.

  7. not so good w/bargain shopping but hope to get really good at it… it's such a hassle really… but I am learning to buy things on sale… except shoes… I try w/shoes but if I see one that I really like, I'm getting it…

    when i'm in nigeria… i usually have to take someone w/me shopping… it's like there's some foreigner radar… without saying anything they just know that you're not from around there and want to hike up their prices

  8. I don't like to bargain at all. I don't have the patience for it. Besides, it makes me feel like i'm asking for stuff, which i don't like to do. I hardly ever went to the market in Nigeria, the only time i went was to buy fish for ou cats and they used to cheat me like crazy. My mom is pretty good though.

    If i ever have to go live in Naija, then i'm ready to learn how to do that.

  9. who does not like awoof (GNG i hope u know wat awoof means.u might want to add it to your list of Naija words ;))

    In lagos u have to start your bargain from 50% of the original price..then you can now start negiotating from there.

    In the UK..hmm i only bargain like afrobabe..if something is wrong with the stuff i want to buy no matter how little o…i learnt that from one of my uncles…by default u'll get at least 10% off.

    I'll rather shop during the sale jare…that's prolly the original price sef…who knows!

  10. No am not a bargain shopper. Am to shy for that but now that I work I certainly understand my mum beetter like why she would walk down 10 mins just to buy onions N20 cheaper than she saw it 10 mins ago

  11. i've learnt how to bargain in boutiques!especially when i have the item on my mind and need to get, it doesnt get to my offering price but its lowered! I also love 'sales' and like you i sometimes end up with stuff i dont need or use just because it was on sale.

  12. I'm not good at bargaining. Its one of the reasons I hated going to the market in Naija. I've noticed that I get good bargains here though…I hardly go to the mall (I actually hate it because I hardly get what I want at a bargain price in 30 minutes or less – seriously, why should you spend a whole day at the mall? Spending money? Yeesh) , or best buy, but I get my gadgets and things at wonderful prices on craigslist or ebay…I've sorta learned to wait it out…

  13. hmmm, i don't like the hassle of bargaining and i feel embarrassed when i'm besides relentless bargain people. I have a friend that would always ask for employees discount when she gets to the counter…and most of the time, they give her theirs. She also bargains at MCdonalds and gets free fries with her order all the time. I've tried to do the cute face and ask for employee discount but it never worked.

    However, i always ask for a free upgrade to First class on any flight i take, i usually get a smile back but a few months ago on a flight from Naija to yankee i got my wish and got a free upgrade to business class. Men, i fit in right away and was discussing future business deals with a passenger. (you know thats how we roll in business class)

    How u dey?

  14. Lol Yo today I just bought like 5 summer dresses for 30$…hehehehe!!!! I also wait around for the sale when it comes to clothes, seen as I buy them too often!! For shoes and bags tho..I buy from regular stores so no bargaining there…:D . I Feel we should always bargain if we at stores that permit such…

  15. lol, I'm embarrassed for that poor man bargaining at THE DOLLAR STORE. This could be a classic Dave Chappelle joke about black folks. lol. Too funny1

  16. i'm such a bargain hunter! got it from my mom – she once priced carrots(or something) down to a third of what it cost initially.

    however my brother takes the cake- he once bought 5 bags that cost about 50 pounds each for 60.

    in total.

    yes, you read right!!

  17. …but i find myself doin this unconciously too, hehehhe, well i guess its the environment u know, people belief they just hav to top the price cos u def will bargain,

    its just so funny to me when am doin doin my weekly shop for food stuff, u need to see how serious i look when beatin down prices..lol

    ve been away but bac now, so howdy?

  18. I love freebies. I love a good bargain. Wen im in d market i can speak ibo, yoruba and hausa just to get a good bargain. wat can i say i'm igbo lol!!

  19. Let me introduce you to the worst bargainer then. My brothers are always eager to help me buy…………….afterall, why 'cast the extra cash' to stranger?

    " It’s always worth a try!" Spot-on, though.

  20. Has your mother tried to bargain @ a grocery store yet? My mother (or was it my grandmother) has shamelessly done so. Sad case, I tell you. Very, very sad. lol

  21. ok, ti crazy but nowadays i ask sum1 d pryc nd nxt tn i hear myself dividn it in2 2 nd caln dat pryc, nd on and on it goes. yeah i kno, alaroro (i think i got dat ryt) but it seems sumtn's takn ova me coz i useda b pisd at momc 4 doin it in d past. now my friends let me do d hagglin

  22. Well I never knowingly buy except it's on sale!

    If you see me buy an item(clothing/shoes/accessories) at full price, it's because I really really need it urgently otherwise…my dear I'm always waiting for sales o(buy one get one free:-) ) plus i really don't care about it being in vogue or not(at least to a certain extent…my opinion is if it is nice and it fits moi…why not!).

    I remember pricing meat once back in naija and the meat seller told me to come carry the whole tray(the lady was exhausted…and was just being sarcastic!) needless to say, I had my way. hee hee hee!

    When it comes to bargaining my dear I have no shame o! afterall it is my money I'll be spending.

    I used to find it difficult to bargain in big stores etc…but now I am the queen(at least in my own little world)…I don't get embarrased by the shop assistant etc…once I switch to my bargaining mode(which has really reduced now…(psheeewww I misss naija!)

  23. i dont think i'm good at bargaining, i always feel cheated after buying stuff..the only time I get good deals are when the money I have is limited..i dont wait for discounts either..i get what i want when i need them..

  24. A great piece on culture and generation clash!!!

    It might sound funny but here in Rome (Italy) Nigerians have conditioned a lot of things in a particular zone of the city to a point that some markets expect you to bargain as in Nigeria.

    The names of some wares are even changed. An Italian butcher in such markets will write things like "towel or sciaki ie shaky "near the animal stomach which most people from the South west and mid west buy regularly. You may see strange words like binz, goz meat,goz hed, cauleg. These words are written by a "quasi literate" Italian butchers as he was initially told or regularly pronounced by his semi illiterate Nigerian customer (mostly Benin girls) here.

    Sorry i have gone off your point, this will be for a another reading sometime .

    I enjoy your writings, Just discovered you through Afrobabe.



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