In Antigua, I had my first dealings with street vendors.
Antigua is expensive compared to other cities in Guatemala because it is a tourist attraction. Therefore it was advised that we do not spend all our money buying souvenirs.
Many vendors come to the city square to sell traditional Guatemalan jewelry, apparel, instruments, etc. Their number one target are tourists; in particular American tourists. They view the U.S. as an affluent nation, therefore its citizens must also be wealthy. Vendors even prefer you pay them with U.S. dollars.
As soon they spot an American, they approach you. Their arms are covered in jewelry, scarves, headbands. Men’s backpacks are full of craved flutes painted with images of Mayan artistry. They wave the items in your face.
“No tengo dollares, solamente quetzales.”
“Fine, 70 quetzales.”
Please note that $5.00 is not equivalent to 70 quetzales. In fact, it is actually less. This brings me to my next point. There really is not set price on the item their selling. The vendors wish to get the highest price you are willing to pay. Therefore, they will start with an ridiculously high offering price. Many people are duped to believe that this a fixed price and will actually pay the amount.
They will lie in order to make you believe it is worth the price.
“This is hand sewn.”
“I painted this.”
In reality, most of these items have been mass produced in a huge factory.
The key to getting the an item at your preferred price is to act uninterested. Be willing to walkaway, because they will follow you. Once they follow you, you have won the battle.
“No, lo quiero.”
“How much you have? I work with you.”
“45 quetzales…35 quetzales…30 quetzales…”
” 20 quetzales o no.”
” Fine, 20 quetzales.”
Never feel bad for buying something 1/3 of the initial offering price. The vendors would never sell it to a local at that price.
The lady above tried to sell me a scarf at 125 quetzales. I haggled the price down to 20 quetzales.
Look like a tourists, think like a local.