Expat bargain hunting: Flea market edition
For the Singapore expat on a tight budget, you’ll be pleasantly surprised to know that Singapore isn’t just high fashion brands and consumer goods. If you need to save and getting an affordable serviced apartment isn’t enough, there are other ways you can save. In Singapore, there is a thriving flea market scene where you can uncover uncommon trinkets, hidden gems and preloved items. So here’s how to haggle and bargain for the best deal at these flea markets.
Determine the mood.
Some flea markets allow for bargaining and some are set in their prices. Usually, hipster flea markets shy away from bargaining. However, these are also places you can get one-of-a-kind objects for a steal.
The art of bargaining.
Do your homework.
If you know what you plan to get, find out how much the product usually goes for, and that will give you a ballpark price range to work with when bargaining. Learn product information and features, this will come useful when doing the actual haggling.
Dress to unimpress.
If you’re covered head to toe in Gucci to Louboutins, don’t expect a vendor to believe you when you say you can’t pay more than a certain price. In fact, some vendors will even subtly impose a price hike on customers they think are well-to-do.
Be polite, greet the seller and flash a smile – being courteous goes a long way.
Drop some knowledge bombs.
Impress the vendor with your knowledge of whatever you’re buying and they won’t take you for a fool they can swindle. This is where the homework you’ve done becomes useful. Point out flaws or nicks in the product you’re interested in. Don’t insult and keep a neutral tone – pointing these out gives justification to a lowered price.
Bundle your own deal.
Get a couple items or multiples of the same items for a bigger discount. Usually, vendors tend their booths for the whole day, so when they see an opportunity to get rid of a large chunk of their stock quickly, they take it.
Play it cool.
Don’t be afraid to walk away – neither should you show eagerness to buy. All that enthusiasm translates to is that you can’t leave without what you want to buy, and the seller will stay rigid in their offer.
Most of the time, flea market sellers already have a price tag on their goods. Offer them a price ridiculously too low, and they won’t take you for a serious buyer. However, always offer less than what you’ve set out to pay – more often than not you’ll be met with a counteroffer, and that middle ground price should fall around what you’re willing to pay.
Show them the money.
Take out a set amount of cash – this shows that it’s all that you have and all you’re willing to pay. And seeing the cash physically might tempt the vendor into just taking it.
Choice vs cheap.
Being the early worm gets you the best pick of items at a flea market, but go late and you’ll find tired vendors eager to part with whatever’s left for the day so they can head home.
Now that you’ve been schooled in the art of bargaining, it’s time to hit some flea markets! Do note that not all of these are bargain friendly, so keep an eye out for the ones that are. And for the ones that are not, enjoy the rare finds at affordable prices.
The Luggage Market (Adelphi) – Monthly
Katong Square Lifestyle & Vintage Market – Monthly
China Square Central Flea Market – Every Sunday
Woodlands Recreation Centre – Weekends and Public Holidays
MAAD (Red Dot Design Museum) – Dates to be announced by the museum
Fleawhere is a great website to check out as they have got links and information to all upcoming flea markets in Singapore.