Guatemalan Handicrafts: Learning To Bargain

As I walk the cobblestone streets of Antigua, sometimes catches my eyes. I pause to admire a beautiful scarf, in the unmistakable colors and patterns that Guatemalan handicrafts are known for.

Mayan Handicrafts in Antigua Guatemala

Handicrafts for sale in Antigua

“30 Quetzales!”, the woman says.

I look at my wife in mock disbelief and turn my eyes elsewhere.

“25 Quetzales!”, says the seller again, trying to hold my attention.

I feign a “maybe I like it”  glance at the scarf, refusing to touch it as she hands it to me. Five seconds pass.

“20 Quetzales!”, she says.

That’s more like it. I finally open my mouth to half-heartedly counteroffer. “Diez?”, I ask if she’s willing to drop the price to ten.

She smiles and shakes her head. “Veinte.”

She’s still set on twenty.

I glance at the scarf again and feel the texture as she holds it in her hands. I hesitate for a few seconds then let the scarf go as I take a half-step away from the seller. Sometimes this works, sometimes it doesn’t.

Diez?”, I ask again. This time she comes back with “Dos por treinta.”

Smart – she’s willing to drop the price to fifteen each if I buy two. Not bad at all, but I only need one. I consider it for three seconds, then tell her “No gracias.” Thanks but no thanks.

At this point, it’s the seller’s choice. They can drop the price a bit more, or hope to catch another tourist who’ll pay triple the price they are willing to sell the item for.

“Dos por veinticinco!” she pleads.

Two for 25? Hmmm… That’s only 12.25Q each. Part of me want to haggle a bit more, but then I realize I’m really arguing over what amounts to Q5, or 0.62USD. I’ve paid more than that for a can of Coke.

I give in. It’s a win-win for both. She gets to sell two scarves, I get, well, my wife gets two beautiful scarves for a very reasonable price.

*****

Antigua Guatemala offers a great opportunity to acquire interesting Mayan handicrafts. Learn to bargain if you want to get the most value for your money. A quick rule is to begin every negotiation at half the price first quoted by the seller and then go from there.

When I first arrived, I felt uncomfortable asking “¿Cuanto es lo menos?” (What is the lowest price?). Now? I haggle on everything, from rent with the landlord, to tomatoes at the Mercado.

Sometimes you win, sometimes you lose, but when you and the seller strike a deal, everyone wins.

 

*****

Read more about living in Guatemala: https://www.okantigua.com/guatemala-expat/

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