I decided to do my Christmas shopping for my family and friends while I am here in Kenya. Well, I am kind of obligated to do so considering I have already purchased everything that anyone would actually want from the country I live in. So, I am taking the opportunity to get some good gifts at hopefully good prices. The best place to do that here is at what is called the Masai Market. It might be cheap, but it ain’t easy people! Those people are wanting to make a sale and they will do just about anything. Here is an example of shopping at the market:
Seller: Seester, how are you today?
Seller: What would you like? A bracelet? A picture? How about this leather bag? How many do you want?
Me: I’m just looking.
Seller: Looking is free. No charge to look. It is free to look Seester.
Me: (I keep moving to the next seller)
Next Seller: Oh, I see you have a hairband on your wrist. I will make you a trade for your hairband. What would you like to trade for your hairband?
Me: (I’ve already encountered this sales technique before and am not buying it.) I need my hairband, thank you. (I keep moving to next seller)
Next Seller: Madame, how much do you want to spend? I can sell you something for 100 Kenyan Shillings. What would you like? 100 Kenyan Shillings.
Me: (Still moving along to next seller. Not stopping, because to stop and look is basically to buy.) I don’t need anything. Thank you.
Next Seller: I see you have a water bottle. I will make you a good deal for the water bottle.
Me: I need my water bottle. (Moving on to next seller)
Next Seller: Seester, to look is free. Come and look. Looking is free.
Me: (I spot some earrings I like) Can you show me those earrings right there?
Seller: How many do you want?
Me: I just want to see them please.
Seller: If you buy many, I will give you good deal. Good discount. How many do you want?
Me: Just let me look please. Ok, how much for this pair?
Seller: (grabs a bag and starts putting the earrings in the bag)
Me: Hold on. I asked how much they were.
Seller: (names a price triple what I know they are worth – let’s say 400 shillings)
Me: No way. I will offer you 75 shillings (I know he is going to talk me up from that)
Seller: Oh, that will not leave me enough money to even buy a coke on this hot day. Can you do better than that? I at least need to get a cold coke out of this deal. These are very special earrings.
Me: (Man, what a line. Looking around and noticing that there are a thousand pairs of earrings just like this one here.) No thank you. I think I will keep looking.
Seller: Ok, name your price, name your price. (as she places the earrings in my hand)
Me: Ok, 100 Kenyan Shillings.
Seller: (Grabbing the bag again to put the earrings in) Ok, no problem. You can have them for 200 shillings.
Me: No, I said 100.
Seller: (Grabbing the bag again to put the earrings in) Ok. You can have them for 150 shillings.
Me: No thanks. I will keep looking. (I try to hand the earrings back to him but he won’t take them)
Seller: Ok, ok. 140 Shillings.
Me: (Putting the earrings on the ground, because he won’t take them and walking away) No. I can only give 100.
Seller: (as I am walking away) Ok. Your price, but don’t let anyone know I sold them to you for that price.
This little scenario continued on for about 60 sellers. Booth after booth after booth. You better know if you like something and how much you’re willing to pay for it before you ever look at it. If not, they will harass you into buying it, whether you want it or not, and most times for more than you ever wanted to pay. Man, the effort I go through to get my family good (cheap) Christmas gifts. Whatever happened to a storewide 50% off sale where the price is on the tag? Those were the days.