Whether on the beach, street or in the tianguis (flea market), expectations are to bargain, on both sides of any regateo (negotiation). Though some visitors to Puerto Vallarta find bargaining a bother and even embarrassing, it can also be fun and educational. Try a little bit of your Spanish knowledge of numbers. Know the difference between quince, cinquenta and quinientos and how to say them and half the battle is won!
Seriously…bargaining is not rocket science. Many inexperienced tourists are afraid they are getting cheated but the opposite is often closer to the truth. Northern Americans are much too accustomed to a fixed price and don’t understand the lack of structure.
Amazingly, the vendors one deals with in Puerto Vallarta find bargaining to be a fundamental part of their job and enjoy it immensely. It’s fun and tinged with just the nicest small amount of drama to be entertaining for all involved.
When a beach hawker’s price is offered and simply accepted, they walk away laughing at the dumb gringo who is just throwing his money away.
Knowing this helps us understand business in Mexico as a whole. In Mexico, it is customary to personalize all affiliations and invest one’s own time. Mexicans are much more interested in humanizing transactions in business at any level.
We try to keep in mind, when considering any purchase, how much time has gone into the creation and crafting of any object. Embroidery work on a María doll must take a fair amount of time and yet the cost to the customer is negligible. Rugs that weigh heavy on the sellers back in the beating sun, colorful and made from quality materials, are brought back across the border in abundance because they are so well priced and such a great representation of the culture.
In the market in Puerto Vallarta, one finds a community; it’s not a spot to sell wares as much as a gathering place for people to interact on a personal level. The friendships
and family connections in mercados are evident and symbolize so much of what is Mexico… people enjoying one another and sharing stories, gossip and life, in general.
Mind you, shops and galleries do have price tags and they have been meticulously calculated. When purchasing jewelry, clothing, food, wine and other goods in shops around town, bargaining is frowned upon and simply not acceptable.
Que cómo es es.
Thanks to our guest blogger Adam Garcia for this article!
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