Haggling for souvenirs

By Korbin Smith
Student, Ohio State College of Medicine
School of Health and Rehabilitation Sciences

After the conference in Addis finished, we were about to do some touring throughout the capital of Ethiopia.  Downtown Addis has the biggest market in all of Africa.  This market is essentially hundreds of small stores all selling a mixture of food, clothes, and souvenirs. Growing up in a family in which going to garage sales was a regular family activity, I was prepared for the price negotiations.  In other words, “this wasn’t my first rodeo.”

While I did have a decent amount of birr to spend on souvenirs, I wasn’t giving up my money without a price battle.

After feeling out the atmosphere of many different shops, I began the negotiations. I am not going to name the specific things I was purchasing to avoid ruining the surprise for people back home, but I can describe my negotiation strategy.

I picked two items I liked in one store, and the owner told me 300 birr.  I decided that it would be a good strategy to offer half the asking price.  After being shocked that I was haggling, the owner said 250. I followed up with 200.  Ultimately I said 215 as my final offer, and they took it saving me 75 birr. (That one is for you Dad.)

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