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Uzbeks and the art of bargaining


I have rarely been so enticed to buy things! In Uzbekistan, there are endless shops filled with artisans, crafts, ceramics and all kinds of beautiful items I wanted to carry back home to the USA. Each shop owner smiled, and tried to lure me into their colorful areas, placing decorative silk scarves, coats, fabrics, etc. into my hands to caress.

Of course, any time I asked the price for an item the initial amount quoted was astronomical, thus it became very necessary to bargain with the locals. I traveled with my friend from Tbilisi, Georgia and she was uncomfortable with this style of negotiations because apparently it is not normal in Georgia. However, for Americans, it is totally ordinary to bargain at markets and it does not bother me at all. Maybe it is the lawyer in me, not sure. :) At the same time, there is a sort of ethical and moral issue when you engage in such tactics in poor countries like Uzbekistan.

1. I don't know what the average salary in Uzbekistan is, but I remember a local telling me that cotton pickers in the fields earn some dismal sum like $2 - $3 a day for their work. This is a very serious problem in Uzbekistan - slave labor of sorts in the cotton fields. Now artisans fall under a separate category, because they have a different skill set and invest significant time in their creations. For instance, this woman from whom I bought the table covering had all kinds of awards and diplomas for her embroidery. How much do you think I paid for the item? :)


2. There are all price levels of souvenirs, including dolls, puppets and human figurines. I completely fell in love with these plates! They are everywhere, varying in quality and design. I carried two home with me, and they now hang in my kitchen. Again, it became necessary to bargain with the sellers, as the initial prices quoted ranged from $10 - $40.


3. Hand-made ornaments! These were the most difficult to purchase and bargain for because there was a wife involved. Male sellers were much easier to negotiate with, but when the wife became part of the discussion, things became more complicated.


4. I'm pleased with my purchase, and the decoration now hangs brightly on my Christmas tree this year.


5. The most beautiful were the local coats! This clothing is a big part of what makes the streets of Uzbekistan so colorful, as most native women are wearing them.


6. We spent a lot of time trying on the designs of this woman. She was lovely, but spoke very limited English. Because my friend also wanted to buy some coats, we were able to negotiate the prices down quite a bit because we were buying four total. How much do you think we paid? :)

7. Do we look like natives? :)


How do you feel about bargaining? As a high-earning American, I don't mind contributing to the locals and paying a bit more to help the economy. However, there is a limit to the amount I am willing to be ripped off. It is not acceptable to pay 50% more than locals, for instance. But maybe 20% more is okay. I would estimate that on average, I paid about 20% more than necessary because at some point I began to feel guilty trying to get the price down in such a poor country. At the same time, there was no wish to be exploited.

What would you buy at these markets in Uzbekistan? The food markets will be covered in a different story, but they also are remarkable.

I'll show more of the locals and their creations when I write the posts about each city. Stay tuned....


( 45 comments — Leave a comment )
Dec. 6th, 2018 09:31 am (UTC)
фух, облегчённо выдохнул. подумал, что это про вас: https://sputnik-georgia.ru/columnists/20180712/241186208/Ubijstvo-amerikanskoj-semi-v-Gruzii-kto-dal-pastuhu-ruzhe.html

показалась, что похожа:
Dec. 6th, 2018 11:54 am (UTC)
This is a sad and horrible story. But I’m still alive, and living now the USA. Not Georgia.
(no subject) - chuk_and_gek - Dec. 6th, 2018 12:44 pm (UTC) - Expand
Dec. 6th, 2018 11:36 am (UTC)
would you like to stay and live there? forever and ever
Dec. 6th, 2018 11:55 am (UTC)
No, life there is too difficult and I do not like the nature. It’s very flat, with deserts. I like greenery and mountains. :)
Dec. 6th, 2018 01:59 pm (UTC)
I want a coat like this. Excellent buy. I cannot guess how much it was, but sure it was less than you would pay for something similar at Anthropology.
Dec. 6th, 2018 03:46 pm (UTC)
I bought two coats, $40 each. I think it was a fair price for the work involved.
(no subject) - logofilka - Dec. 6th, 2018 05:16 pm (UTC) - Expand
(no subject) - peacetraveler22 - Dec. 6th, 2018 05:17 pm (UTC) - Expand
(no subject) - logofilka - Dec. 6th, 2018 05:21 pm (UTC) - Expand
(no subject) - peacetraveler22 - Dec. 6th, 2018 05:22 pm (UTC) - Expand
Dec. 6th, 2018 02:28 pm (UTC)
I've learned how to bargain in America :) It's a game and you have to follow the rules. I like it now, because I don't take it too serious.
I don't mind paying more when I'm abroad. It's a part of traveling experience, since you are unfamiliar with the territory and many times your are at the mercy of locals. I'm happy that I'm lucky to make enough to be able to travel and to see other places. But if I have a way ti save some money, I would. And I don't like touristy places, I like to see and experience how locals do it.
I love the ornaments! The coat too. Is it like $15-30?
Dec. 6th, 2018 03:47 pm (UTC)
The ornaments were about $6 each, and the coats $40 each. :)) I think I could have bargained more for the coats, but I liked the designer and I was tired, as this was the first city we visited and I was still jet lagged.
Dec. 6th, 2018 04:39 pm (UTC)
you put it yourself - it's not acceptable to be charged different than locals. That means the seller sees you as a cow good for milking. And buying for the first offered price would be just to confirm that you are stupid foreigner.

Generally, short research will always show the customs and realities of the country you are going to. Like in the western Europe - the bargaining is not necessary and prices are just prices. But East, Middle East, Africa and Asia is totally different story. Common sense also play a role. If they ask you $100 for some shitty thing - you know you are being ripped off. For me it's easy - I never buy souvenirs, problem solved. I travel light, and don't need things to collect dust on a shelf. But my wife loves to buy all kind of crap, often without thinking about the price.
Dec. 6th, 2018 04:42 pm (UTC)
Well, I do not buy shitty souvenirs either. I buy things that I will use in my home like table coverings, or these coats which I will wear in winter. I asked our local guides how much I should be paying for the things I purchased and tried to stay within this range. But, you are absolutely right. There are too many stupid foreigners who do not do research and it's quite easy to milk them. My utters are more dry. LOL. :)))
(no subject) - kichiro_sora - Dec. 6th, 2018 05:39 pm (UTC) - Expand
(no subject) - peacetraveler22 - Dec. 6th, 2018 05:40 pm (UTC) - Expand
(no subject) - logofilka - Dec. 6th, 2018 05:24 pm (UTC) - Expand
(no subject) - peacetraveler22 - Dec. 6th, 2018 05:26 pm (UTC) - Expand
(no subject) - kichiro_sora - Dec. 6th, 2018 05:37 pm (UTC) - Expand
Dec. 7th, 2018 05:54 am (UTC)
Wow! I love your coat!
Dec. 7th, 2018 02:37 pm (UTC)
Thanks! These are my prized possessions from the trip. :))
Dec. 7th, 2018 08:52 am (UTC)
I don’t like bargaining with poor sellers, but my wife do. Probable because she was herself a very poor woman while living in Belorussia.
Last Sunday we visited the Central Park in Manhattan and she asked the street’s vendor of the price of the small bag of nuts.
He said $3 and she was about to leave, but suddenly he offered her $2 for bag. She bought. The vendor got insulted any way and started yelling we are greed people. It was disgusting.
Dec. 7th, 2018 02:37 pm (UTC)
But the vendor still took your money...the main thing is to pay the value you believe the product is worth.
(no subject) - kremlin_curant - Dec. 7th, 2018 03:02 pm (UTC) - Expand
Dec. 8th, 2018 11:54 pm (UTC)
Omg you've decorated your American Christmas tree with Uzbek hand made ornaments. You're a traveler indeed.
Dec. 9th, 2018 12:23 am (UTC)
Haha! I also have ornaments from Russia, Armenia, Georgia and tons of places in the USA! As well as many sentimental family and childhood ornaments.
(no subject) - theodorexxx - Dec. 9th, 2018 08:14 am (UTC) - Expand
(no subject) - peacetraveler22 - Dec. 9th, 2018 08:28 pm (UTC) - Expand
Dec. 18th, 2018 10:28 pm (UTC)
what's next?
let's me guess!
- Moldova?
- Armenia?
- Did Steven Avery kill that woman?

Dec. 19th, 2018 12:14 am (UTC)
I have no idea about Avery. Next will be Georgia again, and probably a day or two in Armenia for my annual birthday trip in February.
Feb. 17th, 2019 09:20 am (UTC)
Happy Birthday!
Hi, Shannon!
I congratulate you.
Be healthy and happy.
And delight us with your travel stories again.
Feb. 17th, 2019 09:35 am (UTC)
Re: Happy Birthday!
Hello! Thank you for the birthday wishes!
Mar. 5th, 2019 08:14 pm (UTC)
Nice entry! Artisans really do possess a special kind of talent to be able to create such beautiful and intricate items. (I especially love the Christmas decoration). It's a bit unfortunate that foreigners have to often bargain with the locals, but it is what it is. Hope to read about your future travels in Armenia soon!
Mar. 6th, 2019 10:18 pm (UTC)
Thanks! I have no motivation to write the past few months, but perhaps some inspiration will come. :)
(no subject) - alex_g9885 - Mar. 7th, 2019 04:53 am (UTC) - Expand
May. 31st, 2019 09:23 pm (UTC)
Bargaining is the essential part of life in Central Asian countries, as well as in Turkey. Those who don't do so are automatically regarded by the bazaar sellers as losers or schmucks. Therefore, to become a respected buyer you always have to go for bargaining
Jun. 2nd, 2019 02:19 pm (UTC)
Agree. However, it is difficult to bargain when there are so many language barriers, plus Uzbek currency is insane. :))
(no subject) - 9_3viggen - Jun. 2nd, 2019 02:25 pm (UTC) - Expand
Jun. 16th, 2019 04:45 pm (UTC)
Nice weather, probably)
Jun. 18th, 2019 10:39 am (UTC)
Hello! Nice to hear from you. How is life? I was in Uzbekistan in November and the weather was pleasant. Interesting country and culture!
(no subject) - andrey_kaminsky - Jun. 18th, 2019 11:35 am (UTC) - Expand
(no subject) - peacetraveler22 - Jun. 19th, 2019 11:00 pm (UTC) - Expand
(no subject) - andrey_kaminsky - Jun. 20th, 2019 08:04 am (UTC) - Expand
(no subject) - peacetraveler22 - Jun. 20th, 2019 12:06 pm (UTC) - Expand
( 45 comments — Leave a comment )


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