Indonesia are especially Bali are famous by the culture and the tradition. Mostly people in Indonesia are going to the traditional market to buy some daily amenities or food like, vegetables, meat, seasoning and many more. Today for generations, Indonesians have bought their food at traditional markets or called “pasar”. The items sold in traditional market are basically fruit, vegetables, meat and fish, spices, dry goods and household items. Here is I would inform you a little bit about the traditional market.
Going to the traditional market is a daily activity for Indonesian women or their household help. Since refrigerators are too expensive for the poor and Indonesians like their vegetables and meat fresh, this necessitates a trip to the traditional market each day to buy ingredients for that day’s meals. While shopping in supermarkets is popular amongst the middle and upper classes, supermarket prices are generally too expensive for the poor.
Prices are not marked on items at traditional markets. Therefore, the fine art of bargaining is taken to new levels as housewives and household help try to get the cheapest prices possible. True shopping savvy means that you already know what the price should be before you start shopping. Prices are compared and news is spread from friend to friend on today’s prices for various items.
Foreigners are not necessarily privy to the price information network and must bargain ardently to get the best price. Before you go to the traditional market, ask your household help what prices you can expect to pay for the various items you want to buy. You could also check supermarket prices realizing that the items will be cheaper at the traditional market.
It is important to maintain your cool in the bargaining process. If the first price quoted is double what you know it should be, show you’re shopping savvy by quoting today’s price at the supermarket or yesterday’s price from the traditional market. Once the seller realizes you know what you’re talking about, the prices will quickly come down.
Take time to talk with the seller and show your curiosity and interest in the various items. Once you establish a relationship (langganan) with one seller, you will get better prices by returning to that person each time you shop. Your household help have their “langganan” with which they always shop. From time to time, in appreciation for the repeat business, the seller may ‘gift’ your household help with an extra item for their use. This is normal business practice at neighborhood pasar and you shouldn’t think that your household help is trying to personally benefit from your shopping money.
Prices and availability of many items depend on the season and the success of the harvest. The ever-increasing cost of living, as fuel and electric prices increase, has driven many prices through the roof.
A traditional market is a beehive of activity compared to the average supermarket. The visit of a foreigner is rare, but undoubtedly will be welcomed with many smiles and much sincere interest. Indonesians are generally appreciative of a foreigner’s interest in their cuisine and foodstuffs. Your questions and attempts to speak in Bahasa will certainly be met with a smile, in between bargaining with other customers of course.
Yes, traditional markets are dirty with rats in plain sight. Hygienic efforts are minimal, yet care is taken to keep food items clean. Wear comfortable shoes that will not be ruined by getting dirty or wet. While it will be warm, refrain from wearing sleeveless shirts or shorts as they are not considered polite. You will undoubtedly be the center of attention no matter what you wear. But if your clothing and manner is polite, the people in the market will also be polite in turn.
Taking pictures is generally allowed. If someone is resisting, it could be because they feel that they aren’t dressed up enough to have their picture taken. Give them a chance to change their shirt. If someone truly doesn’t want their picture taken (usually an older person), don’t force the issue.
For many Indonesians, bargaining is a way of life and getting a fair or cheap price is regarded as a challenge. Sometimes vendors name a price based on the customer’s perceived ability to pay, rather than the actual cost of the item. This makes it more difficult for foreigners, who will usually be quoted a higher price. Some people consider bargaining to be time-consuming and frustrating, but it is also a game and if you know the rules it can be fun.
- Do not try to bargain in shopping malls and stores with fixed prices. You are expected to bargain in road-side stalls, such as those selling plants and flowers, traditional markets and “tourist areas” such as Jalan Surabaya, Pasar Seni Ancol, and the various “antique” shops in Jalan Ciputat Raya and Jalan Kemang Timur, or in the Puncak area.
- In some shops, particularly in “tourist areas”, you will immediately be offered a discount or “special price”, because you are the first or last customer of the day or to encourage you to come again. This is an indication that the vendor is open to bargaining.
- Do not commence bargaining if you have no intention of purchasing – this is considered “bad form”.
- It helps a lot if you have some knowledge of the item’s actual price. Do some surveying first at fixed price stores or ask friends what they paid for certain items that you are interested in.
- To start the bargaining process, first ask the vendor the price of the item that you are interested in. Then ask if the price can be reduced (Boleh kurang?). If the answer is “Yes” (Boleh) or “Yes, a little” (Boleh, sedikit), you begin negotiations.
- As a general rule you can offer to pay one quarter to one half of the first asking price, with the vendor and purchaser making counter offers until a suitable median price is reached. The agreed price that you reach may be about one half to two thirds of the initial asking price.
- In some traditional markets the prices offered are already low and vendors may take offense at a very low first price offer, therefore you should only ask for a discount (Minta diskon). Normally this is obvious from the reaction of the vendor when you “suggest” the price you are willing to pay.
- If you are purchasing more than one item you should be able to negotiate a better deal.
- Even though you really like something, try to keep calm and poker faced, as the vendor will stick to his higher price if he thinks you will pay it.
- If, after some negotiations, you consider that the vendor’s price is still too high you can leave the shop or stall and move on to the next, which will probably be offering similar items. This often does the trick and the vendor will rush after you accepting your last offered price. If this does not happen, you know that your price was still too high and the vendor would have suffered a loss loss or he is not willing to sell for that price.
- When you and the vendor have agreed on the price you are obliged to complete the purchase.
- Build up a relationship with a vendor at a store where you shop frequently. You can remind the vendor that you have shopped there previously and as he recognizes you his “first price” will become lower.
- In shops that allow bargaining you should be aware that it is unlikely that you would be able to get a refund or after sales service.
- Bargaining is a skill that can be developed with practice and you will be proud of the “bargains” you have acquired. There will be times when you discover later that you paid “too much”, but the prices in general are very affordable, and the experience of bargaining is enjoyable in itself.
- Patience and good humor are vital for successful bargaining. If you are not in the mood for bargaining, then shop in stores where prices are fixed
Enjoy your bargaining experiences in Indonesia!