Do’s and Don’ts of bargaining in the Caribbean

Negotiating a price on most items is a way of life in the Caribbean.  For many Americans this is an unfamiliar and often uncomfortable part of shopping for jewelry in the islands.  Here are a few simple things to keep in mind while bargaining for a good deal.



  • Research the value of the item you are buying before your trip
  •  Take your time.  On any significant item the seller is unlikely to reach a rock-bottom price without a protracted bargaining session.  This is a game and whoever gets impatient first loses.
  •  Do get the seller to make several offers before you counter: In almost every case the seller’s initial offer will just be a fishing expedition. You should not reply to it in any way, just keep asking, politely, if they can offer a lower price. After you make your first offer, there is no obligation to “trade” figures; there is no reason why the seller shouldn’t come down two or three times before you make your next offer.
  •  Deal with people you are comfortable with. You may be spending a bit of time and possibly spending a lot of money with them.  Maintain a friendly demeanor.  Your relationship with the seller may affect the final price you’ll pay.  Besides, why shop with someone you don’t like?
  •  Speak a little of the seller’s language. If you are in a foreign country, even a small effort to speak a little of the local language will be returned many fold.  Oddly, it is often true that the worse you speak the language the better you will be received because you are making more of an effort.   You may want to type your offer into a calculator so both the buyer and seller understands the price.
  •  Practice bargaining at home with your family. Sit at the dinner table and make a game of it, see who can get the best deal for the chicken. Once you have done it a few times, you’ll do fine. Or visit a few garage and tag sales on the weekends.


  •  Don’t be confrontational A bargaining session is a cooperative endeavor where the buyer and seller are working together to a common end: agreeing to a price that will satisfy both parties.  It is not a competition in which you are trying to “beat down” the opposition and “triumph” over them.
  •  Under no circumstances should you be rude or question the validity of any price the seller names, no matter how absurd it seems to you. Your attitude should be friendly and calm.
  •  Don’t show too much or too little interest. You don’t want the seller to feel that the item in question is one you cannot live without. Let the seller know that you like the item and would certainly buy it if only this minor matter of the price could be settled.
  •  Don’t start with an offer that’s too low.  It may seem that starting very low you have more room to bargain.  But this tactic serves more to signal your lack of knowledge of the actual value of the item.  Most successful negotiations should start fairly close to the price you are willing to pay. Make occasional small concessions and let the seller come down to you.

Follow these simple Do’s and Don’ts and you will have fun while getting a great deal on jewelry.

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