After a weekend trip to the famed black market strip in New York City, I have contrived a list of five things you can do to ensure you come out in one piece.
1. Get there early.
The later you get there the worse off you will be for a couple of reasons. First, parking will be ever more difficult to come by; who wants to walk 10 blocks to arrive somewhere and walk around some more? Secondly, when there are fewer people walking the street during the early hours vendors are more eager to sell things, and thus are easier to bargain with.
2. Don’t keep all your money in one pocket.
Whenever my girlfriend and I go we split up money between us. She’ll typically hold $20 or $40 and I’ll hold the remainder. As she’s the one talking and trying to bargain, she pulls out her money and the vendors can see that’s all she has, so they’ll be more likely to give it to us for the lower price we desire. If they see you whip out a load of cash they’ll try to rip you off even more.
3. Never make eye contact.
Anyone who has ever walked down Canal Street knows it feels like you’re a celebrity being mobbed by paparazzi. Everyone is trying to get you into their store, yelling items and prices your way in hopes of getting some sort of response. Avoiding eye contact with them will limit this harassment and allow you to make it from point A to point B easier.
4. Set a price and stand by it.
Often times you’ll see something you want and upon asking a price, are blown away at the outrageousness of it (sorry, that cardboard Gucci knockoff just isn’t worth $80). When you see something you want ask them a price then respond with a counter offer. Once this counter offer is set they will try to meet you halfway, do not fall for it, stick to your price. Bottom line is they need your money a lot more than you need their product, so 9 times out of 10 they will give in to your demands. In the rare occasion they don’t, walk next door and try your luck there.
5. Buy only what you came for, then leave.
With all of the cheap prices on tons of items it’s easy to get caught up in the ruckus and go on a spending spree; don’t, in the end you’ll end up with a bucket of cheap goods that you will not want a day later, and half of them won’t even work.