Tenerife is famous for its markets, and of course there is nothing quite as satisfying as haggling yourself to a bargain. The trouble is that many Brits abroad are too afraid to try their hand at bartering, fearing that bargaining their way to cheaper prices will make them seem cheap or break the traditional British reserve. In this guide, I shall explain the cut and thrust of the wonderfully addictive game of market bargaining, but first a few tips on where to find the best markets in Tenerife…
Torviscas Market and Los Cristianos are perhaps the biggest markets in Tenerife, an
d a great opportunity to brush up on your haggling skills. It also boasts the biggest range of products to get your teeth stuck into (figuratively speaking) – clothing, fashion, books, electricals, jewellery and even property! Obviously, you don’t want to get too wrapped up in the haggling and end up buying the latter, but in terms of range of goods to buy, these two cannot be beaten.
On Friday mornings, the Golf Del Sur market is a good choice for those staying nearby. It’s quite new, but is already picking up in terms of popularity with a varied number of stalls offering an interesting mix of goods. The night market at Los Abrigos offers a unique atmosphere, and despite a smaller selection of stalls offers a nice range of beautiful jewelery. Finally the African market at Santa Cruz is a site to behold: made up of over 300 stalls of fresh produce, this is the perfect place to practice your bartering – just don’t take too long, because the tastiest fruit and vegetables tend to go very quickly!
So now you know the best places to try haggling in Tenerife, the question becomes how it is done. Here’s the best advice I’ve got to ensuring you bag the best deal…
1)Know the market
Whilst it can be tempting to throw yourself in at the deep end and start haggling over every item that catches your interest on the first day of your Tenerife holiday, it actually pays to spend a little time getting to know the general prices of the island. Spend a few hours making a wish list of items you’d like to pick up, and assessing how much they tend to go for – work out what is and isn’t a reasonable price before you start your first haggle.
2)Be polite and keep your sense of humor
Haggling at a market is supposed to be fun, and you won’t improve your chances by being surly and rude. Keep it slightly playful and you’ll be more likely to avoid offense and score the bargain you’re looking for.
3)Be ready to walk away
Walking away is actually a very important part of the haggling dance. If the bartering has reached an impasse and the merchant is refusing to drop the price any lower, don’t be afraid to walk away. If it looks like the merchant is going to lose the sale, he may well follow you with ‘one last offer’.
4)Convert the price into your own currency
This sounds obvious but you need a good handle on the currency before you begin. Tenerife uses the Euro, so get your head around a rough conversion rate before you begin – loosely, £1 is equivalent to 1.5 Euros, so bear this in mind – you don’t want to haggle for ages only to eventually work out you were arguing over pennies!
5)Hesitation is your friend
Your best friend in the exciting world of haggling isn’t actually your words, it’s the absence of them. Show some hesitation in responding to an offer, and your merchant may quickly produce a better offer for fear of failing to close a sale. Don’t overuse the tactic or it will be seen through quite easily, but hesitation is perfect because it implies you’re tempted, and will make the seller think he’s nearly there. This is best used when approaching a price you’re willing to pay.
6)Bargaining isn’t just about price
The price is the main thing naturally, but extra value doesn’t need to simply come from a few quid knocked off! Extras items and services can be used to barter – agree to pay the price suggested, if your seller agrees to throw in another item you’re interested. If the bargaining has become stale, this is a good way to reignite the discussion and bring you closer to a bargain to brag about!
Appearance shouldn’t come into the haggling experience, but it really does! Put yourself in the sellers shoes: If someone comes to you saying they can’t afford to spend more than £8 on the vase, are you more or less likely to believe them if they’re wearing an Armani suit and Rolex wrist watch? Dress down, and don’t give the impression that you have the money to pay their top price if you want to secure the best bargain.
8)Point out imperfections before you begin
It’s a standard rule that you play down the item you’re interested in purchasing before a price is first named. If you mention the uneven paintwork on a vase before asking the price, the seller is just more likely to name a more reasonable cost in the first place, which makes bartering them down that little bit easier…
9)Set a maximum price you’re willing to pay
Before you start the process, think of what you’re actually willing to pay, and what you’d like to part with. By setting a maximum and ideal value, you can have clear boundaries to work in, and can accurately assess whether you’re likely to reach a price point you’re happy with. It will also ensure you don’t feel disgusted at how much you’ve paid later, thinking you got a bargain at the time.
10) A facial expression is worth a thousand words
I mentioned earlier the power of silence in producing a swift drop in price, but that only tells the aural side – visuals also play a huge part in the bartering process, and while keeping your poker face when a superbly low offer is handed your way is important, looking skeptical, horrified or even laughing at a bad offer can be just as powerful. Sometimes such a reaction can prompt a price drop without you even having to open your mouth (though obviously it helps with the laughter) so bear this in mind if an opportunity arises.
Haggling is a great way of making a cheap holiday to Tenerife even cheaper! The most important thing about all this is to have fun though. I wouldn’t recommend you try haggling too much on items you really want, because it will seriously limit your ability to ‘play the game’ effectively with that all important bargaining method: walking away and looking elsewhere.