Friday, January 25, 2013

Qipu Lu Haul and Guide to Bargaining (Long Post!

Belated happy new year to everyone! I’m actually more than weeks late in greeting this blog and its readers, and more than a month late than posting another blog post, but I have been caught up with school (as usual) so I haven’t had the time to write something decent. That, and I seldom go out these days (except for when I go to school), so I can’t take any interesting photos of food, outfits, or what have you.

Thankfully, I’ve been given a 3-day weekend before the stress commences again this coming week, and I was able to pay a visit to one of my favorite shopping destinations here in Shanghai: Qipu Lu, or Qipu Road (pronounced as chee-poo).

Situated near East Nanjing, Qipu Lu houses several buildings that consist of small kiosks, all selling various products. From accessories to clothes, umbrellas to gadget cases, everything one needs for day to day life can probably be found there.  Admittedly, though, it's not the place to look for gadgets and there are more stores that cater to women, so it's not all that perfect. Plus, one important thing that must be remembered is that when going to Qipu Lu, ONE MUST ALWAYS BARGAIN.  I’ll get back to this point later, but here are the various things I found in this shopping haven:

Cat Tunic, RMB50~$8
I've been seeing this in numerous blog sites, and was fortunate to stumble upon it in a tiny kiosk. Since this was originally RMB65, I tried to bargain for half its price, but failed because only a few of them sold this particular item (and the others sold it for a higher price).

More under the cut! 

Black Shorts with Button Detail, RMB20~$3
No bargaining was needed for this item, since it was on clearance in a shop we passed. How could I say no? 

Gold and Black Necklace, RMB30~$5
I've been needing a necklace to pair with my basic shirts, as I'm the type who likes wearing neutrals and barely accessorizes. This necklace caught my eye in particular, and it was originally RMB75.

Black Faux Leather Shorts, RMB40~$6
Leather has been one of my favorite fashion staples this winter season, so imagine my delight when I found these babies. Originally about RMB80.

Light-washed Denim Shirt, RMB40~$6
Originally RMB85, this shirt originally wasn't in my list of things to buy and I only inquired about the price, until the saleslady placed a firm grip on my arm and begged me to state the price I wanted. I seldom wear anything denim these days, so this would make a nice addition to my wardrobe.

Leopard iPhone 5 Case, RMB25~$4
I needed a new case for my phone to replace my overly girly Hello Kitty one, and I found this by chance. Originally RMB40. 

Lace White Shorts, RMB30~$5
Been hunting these babies for a while now, but they were always out of stock and priced expensively in online stores. It was on clearance, so bargain did I not. 

Hat with Animal Ears, RMB30~$5
This hat has been plaguing several blogs and online shops now, and I originally wanted the beret version, yet this one seemed to look better on my head. Originally RMB60.

Beige Faux Leather Skirt, RMB45~$7
All my bottoms have been colored black, and it's definitely time for some change. Originally RMB55. 

All in all, I spent about $50 on these items, which is not bad at all. Significantly, however, the prices of each item were initially 50-100% higher than I was able to obtain them for. How was I able to get them for half their price, you ask? Most of the time, simply bargaining will not allow you to get the item at the price that you desire, and you will just end up begrudgingly paying more than what you intended for an item you want badly.

Well, here’s the answer: bargaining is not as easy as one thinks. It’s quite analogous to a relationship—it takes time, effort, and skill to make it work to your favor.  So for those of you who like stress-free shopping, and who want to take your sweet time trying on clothes and looking around: Qipu Lu (and places as such) is not for you.  

Having shopped for several years in places similar to Qipu Lu (i.e Mongkok in Hong Kong and Divisoria in Manila), I was able to gather enough data to come up with the following recommendations when shopping and bargaining. For bargaining newbies out there, these tips will help you in your shopping:

1    1.)  Go on a weekday. The logic behind this tip is simple: less people=less consumers=less competition. Chances are, you’ll be one of the first customers in the area, and the shop owners will be forced to give you what you want to make their first sale. But that will only happen if you also
      2.)  Go there early. Places like Qipu Lu open at around 10a.m or so, which is why going there between 9 a.m to 11 a.m would be the ideal time. 
3    3.)  Know your size early on. More often than not, the shops in these places do not have fitting rooms for shoppers, and they also won’t allow you to try on the items on the spot. So know your size and make sure you know how to estimate your own measurements when considering an item; otherwise, bring a measuring tape.
4    4.) When bargaining, always state 30-40% below the price given. The mark-up that merchants give at their initial price is often about 100-200% more than the price they’re willing to sell the item for, so do not be fooled even if the item seems cheap. All items usually range from RMB20-RMB50 ($3.5-$8, or PHP130-PHP350), so consider yourself ripped off if you paid more than this range.

And finally, here comes the last tip, which is the most important factor needed in bargaining:

5     5.) NEVER, EVER, EVER SHOW EMOTION.  I cannot emphasize this enough. Do not make merchants see how much you like the item. Pretend like you just want to know how much the item is and that you do not care whether you get it or not. Based on past experience, merchants always beg me to state my desired price and purchase their item after I show “apathy” towards their product, so I end up getting what I want while they either end up quite pissed off or satisfied with their sale, or both. At the end of the day, you should NOT show sympathy towards merchants as well and tell yourself “ah, I don’t mind paying extra since the shopkeeper seemed so nice and hardworking” because even then, the price you stated will probably still be way more than its actual cost.  Most of these items come from China, ergo they’re mass produced and really cheap. That’s why bargaining is IMPERATIVE.

Bargaining, really, is more of a mind game than just mere shopping; it actually takes skill, heaps of patience, and even more practice to get it right.  It definitely is not for everyone, but one will find that if he is willing to go through all that effort, then the results will be rewarding and a lot of money will be saved.  Compared to the shopping in department stores, the opportunity cost of not bargaining would be the extra money spent on products; the opportunity cost of not shopping in ordinary department stores and shops, meanwhile, would be all that time spent bargain hunting.  Everything in this world, after all, has a price, so it all depends on the price one is willing to pay.

Nevertheless, may the odds ever be in your favor, and happy shopping!


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