Thursday, April 18, 2013

Hong Kong Shopping: Bargaining & Buyer Beware

I remember following my mom around on our trips to HK as a kid where she would deftly "bargain" with just about every merchant.  I would stand behind her, thankful I didn't have to talk, and try to send her encouragement vibes.  10 years ago, the thought of bargaining made me recoil.  On this trip though, I figured I didn't have anything to lose and it might even be fun to see what kind of deal I could get.

HK's Ladies' Market used to be jam-packed with replica bags, clothes, and the like, but they've really cracked down on that.  So while you will still see MANY inspired items (usually unlabeled or locally labeled), there are considerably fewer merchants trying to pass off to-the-dot replicas.  When it comes to my stance on that, I'm fine with inspired items.  I myself make my own inspired pieces, but personally stay away from items that are being passed off as something else.

My first purchase was a one-size-fits-all shirt dress / tunic in the Burberry-inspired vein.  I actually liked it so much, I picked up a navy / red version the next day.

One-size-fits-all is an interesting concept to me.  The sleeves and torso are relatively full, but the shoulders are actually pretty close to my normal shirts.  So I'm guessing the one-size is meant for smaller-framed Asians.  What I loved about this was the versatility.  You can wear it as shirt dress (although I feel like it's a little short for me), button up the sides for a bubble-esque hemmed tunic, or tuck it in as a shirt.  Opening cost was $299 and I talked her down to $160 ($20 USD).

Here's the navy version.  When I looked at this shirt at the market, I knew the quality wasn't great.  There were loose threads everywhere, the stitching wasn't very sturdy (they used a long, basting stitch in many places), and the stitching was crooked in some areas.  I weighed this all and still bought them because these flaws are fixable, I loved the versatility, and I knew recreating this (and finding this type of fabric) would be difficult.

My other purchases included a leopard scarf ($79 down to $39 - $5USD) and 2 cross body bags - 1 basket-weave ($350 down to $200 - $25USD)  and 1 map ($399 down to $250 - $29USD.  I love maps! see map skirt here).  I didn't notice when I bought it, but one of my leopard spots was faded.  :(

In all, I had fun bargaining and haggling my way to a lower price.  If you go shopping there, start haggling at around 50% of the list price AND be sure to very carefully inspect each piece for defects!  

Where do you stand on haggling?  Love it or leave it?


  1. Great purchases! I love the purses you picked up. I'm all for negotiating in the right places. I used to work in retail a lifetime ago, and some customers used to try to haggle with me, but, as it was a proper bricks and mortar store that was part of a chain, it's just not possible (unless there's a product defect). Some people don't really take no for an answer and are really off-putting. But in small independent shops and night markets, I'm all for the haggling!

  2. My mother learned bargaining in Filipino flea markets (divisoria), and she's successfully bargained in other countries even if she couldn't speak the language! Sadly, I didn't inherit any of her skills. I don't like the feeling of wondering if I could have gotten a better deal. But I definitely preferred Hong Kong street shops over their actual retails stores. I had missed the memo that most women in Asia get dressed up just to go shopping. I think the sales associates assumed I was a poor local person. I was treated pretty crappily but my Caucasian friends dressed the same got the royal treatment since it was obvious they were tourists! Needless to say Hong Kong + shopping didn't leave me with good memories. Lol, sorry for the ramble.

    1. Your story is too funny, RL, and painfully familiar! I can never forget when I was in Asia as a teen, I wore flip flops and a sundress (aka regular American teen fare) to the mall and was completely snubbed by the sales associates. My relatives said it was bc I was dressed worse than a "peasant's daughter" (?) in "rags" plus shoes that aren't meant to be worn outside the home. It's amazing how some places there care so much about an outer facade ... Needless to say I was not left with good memories not bargaining skills, either.

      SPG - I'm wishing hear Asia food and travel posts will
      never end! Thanks for letting us enjoy it all vicariously through you.

  3. In Taiwan the shopping is very similar with a lot of one size fits all items. At first it baffled me, but they seem to all fit so I loved it. My mom LOVES haggling and bargaining with them and she's so good at it. I, on the other hand, am not that into myself. I get too intimidated! So I let my mom, aunts, and grandma do all the work! :)

    xo, Yi-chia
    Always Maylee

  4. Those shirts! Love them! Seoul is the same way. I used to be slightly mortified when my mom and abuts would haggle. The "American" in me just wanted to pay the asking price. Ha. I'd like to go back and see if I still feel the same way.

  5. The plaid shirt is cool looking, and it's handy to hear about your bargaining experience. For your scarf, perhaps you could try bleaching the leopard spot or touching it up with white fabric paint?

  6. Oh gosh, I'm horrible with bargaining. Somehow to me it is very intimidating. I like to stand behind and let my friend who is great at it do the work. :)

    I love the bags. They're great picks!

  7. I'm so bad at haggling, prolly cause I have no good role model ;). LOVE the versatility of the tunics and cute basket weave cross body. Very spring and summer ready!

  8. great job haggling! I suck at haggling, except when it comes to items I definitely did not want to buy, and pushy salespeople somehow talk me into it by giving me 2384792734 percent off. lol
    That leopard scarf is so cute! I'm not into animal prints (at all), but that black and white looks very nice!


  9. Don't be surprised if everyone on the internet associates you with maps now! Haha!

    7% Solution​

  10. Thats how it is in India :) We haggle from a vegetable vendor to the clothes and shoes and everybody everywhere. Love the tunic on you and good job on haggling.


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