If there’s one thing I’ve learned from being on a missions trip…it’s how to negotiate! Okay, I’ve learned a ton of spiritual stuff as well, but inevitably, on each missions trip comes the free day where you go to the local market. Ohhhhhh yeaaaaaaah, shopping at its finest. This is where you can find just about anything carved out of a coconut…or a stump. You can get your hair braided so tight that your grandchildren will have a headache. You can pick up a cross made out of….stuff that you don’t recognize. It’s the day we ‘set free’ the kids that have traveled with us, and tell them to go buy something to bless their parents and supporters.
It’s not uncommon for you to be walking by the huts, which are outside in eleven thousand degree weather, for the seller to wave a fan handmade out of banana leaves at you and tell you that they have air conditioning. It’s quite funny, but you have to realize that these are people trying to put food on their table just like the rest of us. At these markets we would always tell the youth on the trip with us to not just take the first price offered. These folks are used to negotiating. In fact, in most countries other than ours, they are used to negotiating at markets. Therefore, you always figure out what you are willing to pay for the item, go lower than that, and try and negotiate to your price. What’s really funny is watching one of our youth lock onto something that they really want, and they try to negotiate. Once they see you’re sold, they don’t back down. But if you act like it’s no big deal, they will drop the price with every step you take walking away from their merchandise.
“That’s great Chris, I’m sure that’ll help me on my next missions trip. But what can I do with that here?” Well, the truth is, I negotiate stuff here all the time just by asking. The Bible says you have not ’cause you ask not. So ask! Many times at car rental places I have been the sweetest and most charming guy, and then asked for a free upgrade by saying, “Can you upgrade me for free since I’m your favorite?!” The crazy thing is, it has worked more than not. The same thing at hotels when asking for a better room. During Christmas, when a store is packed, is a great time to ask for a discount. Just about anyone is able to give a ten percent discount.
The point is, it’s not that difficult to negotiate a better rate on the things you are buying. Just be realistic,and expect someone to do the same to you. :-)