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The Mercado Modelo: Haggling tips from behind enemy lines
Submitted by dr1guide on September 1, 2009 – 10:42 pmNo Comment

Mercado_Modelo_1A mainstay since 1942, the Mercado Modelo holds claim to the city’s largest selection of Dominican souvenirs. Here, visitors and vendors pull and tug in a fight for the best price. To assist visitors, dr1guide collected some tips from two unlikely sources. Veteran Mercado Modelo vendors Virgilio Gonzalez and Silvia Molina were bold enough to sit down and give us some advice on how to get the best prices.

Haggling is expected
According to Gonzalez, vendors at the Mercado Modelo expect you to bargain, so much so that they would be a bit surprised if a client did’t ask for a lower price. So, don’t be shy, it’s the norm. “Tourists seem to know they can haggle, maybe they’re told at the airport,” Gonzalez says with a smile. “I have no problem lowering until we reach a price that is comfortable for me and for the client.”

You get more with honey than vinegar
Some visitors can be aggressive when trying to lower the price, and according to Gonzalez, this is the wrong way to go about things. One must remember there’s something to be gained by both parties. “We can keep lowering the price to an amount where I can’t go any lower. If the client cannot pay my lowest price, there’s no reason to get upset,” says Gonzalez. He explains that he also wants to reach an agreement but obviously has to make some money on the deal as well.

Not every shop has the same price
A common misconception at the Mercado Modelo is that since each shop within the warehouse is basically selling the same thing, the prices should be more or less the same. Not so, explains Gonzalez. According to him, each shop buys from different artisans and prices can vary a great deal in the market. Gonzalez suggests you shop around because although the same item may be sold in various shops, prices can vary considerably. “There’s never a fixed price,” says Gonzalez. So, don’t feel foolish looking for the same item in several shops or even returning to a shop you’ve already visited; it’s all expected.

Offer 50% of the cost
According to Molina, visitors should offer 50% of the cost of an item right away to start off the bargaining game as this puts both parties on an even playing field. The buyer is offering what they consider a fair price, and the seller (although they may try to increase the price) will make a profit. Molina advises that visitors should try and hold strong around this 50% mark especially on some of the larger merchandise like wooden sculptures, paintings, drums, etc. She mentions that the vendor will try to get the buyer more around 30% for smaller merchandise like magnets, knick-knacks, pens or penholders, etc. According to Molina, haggling is just part of the game.

Visitor information
Open Mon-Sat 8am-6pm. Sun 8am-12pm. Av. Mella #55, 809.685.1600.

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