Bargain like a Gypsy, but pay like a Gentleman

“Bargain like a gypsy, but pay like a gentleman”. So says the Hungarian proverb about bartering.

My interpretation is that if a person is going to bargain, they must have the intuition to find their moment, and possess the expertise and tact required to achieve a better trade, but if they understand that they will have to pay the set price, they might as well do it with elegance, and without complaints.

I have never quite mastered the art of bargaining. Attempting this trick where I live, in the United States, is not really an option. In fact, I wasn’t sure if it would work abroad for me, either. On my venture to Italy, I remember I was waiting beside a magnet rack in Italy for my group, having already purchased my own souvenirs at the normal price of 2 euros per magnet. Glancing up, I noticed a girl, my age, with a triumphant grin on her face. “Yay! We brought down the price,” she giggled. I couldn’t help but smile. All of us gathered here, around the souvenir shop, were undoubtedly tourists. We were the same. I thought to myself, ‘It just seems so easily possible. Perhaps, at that corner postcard shop, I might try?’. I had always looked at this little game as something that worked for others, but wouldn’t work for me. I thought I couldn’t possible carry it off. And I was right. Perhaps, the trick only works at certain shops, and we must read the disposition of the shopkeeper. Or perhaps it depends on the quality of product, or how high the original price is. But it always needed to be done with a sense of confidence and tact, so as not to irritate the vendor. I guess I just don’t have the gypsy-like expertise it takes.

Looking back, it was most likely the original price that got me – it had already been very reasonable to begin with. I carry on my travels, and my shopping, as a gentleman.

Perhaps one day I will learn enough to be a gypsy…