Mumbai (formally Bombay) is one of the shopping Hot-spots in India. It’s one of those rare cities where you can buy some of the most expensive designer brands at plush-looking shops like Pierre Cardin and Louis Vitton and just a stone’s throw away you can buy cheap knock offs of the same and more at a cheap roadside bazaar. The shops and bazaars offer a truly amazing diversity of goods, as well as being worth a visit in their own right.
Everyone can shop at regular stores and malls in Mumbai where there’s no searching for that one of a kind piece or haggling to get a good price. But to truly experience the Shopping Mumbai has to offer you need to take to the streets. For that you need to know where to start. So here’s a guide one of many more to come about Street Shopping in Mumbai the best that I know how.
Street Shopping in Mumbai
Shopping the Streets of Mumbai is what I enjoy the most. It’s an Experience in itself. The rush of finding a good piece that catches your eye amongst a whole lot of other stuff is exciting. Then comes the haggling and bargaining (which is an acquired skill) that can go one of two ways- feeling like you could have got it cheaper and you paid more than its worth, or the disbelief that he sold it to you so cheap, making you feel like you cheated him of making a profit. If it’s the latter you feel, let me just tell you that NO ONE…..not even guys selling on the streets will sell you anything for a loss! It’s their margin of profit you are deciding when you bargain so don’t fall for it when they try to guilt trip you into believing that you just caused them a loss.
I tell you this from experience as I have been down that road, felt that guilt, gone back and paid more….just to walk down the road to find another vendor selling the same thing for less than what I had agreed to pay in the first place…without bargaining!!
Here are some tips to better your Mumbai Street Shopping experience:
Spotting a Good Buy!
- Needless to say but I’ll say it anyway- Keep your eyes open at all times it will not only help you spot something you like from a street vendor, but also prevent you from stepping into a puddle, man-hole, rubbish or a land mine left by a cow on Mumbai’s Streets.
- Spotting the real from the fakes, yes there are ‘reals’ out there! Many of the vendors sell export surplus stocks of real brands or defective stock of the brands. But Beware- There are fakes too. Examine the logo carefully and look closely at the writing if any. Usually it’s just the shabbily copied logo that gives it away but the easier to miss signs are the simple spelling mistakes on the box or label.
- Look for irregularities and defects. Sometimes it’s pretty minor like in clothing a crooked stitch or a small stain that can be washed, but other times you have to watch out for things like a t-shirt that looks ok but when you try it on at home one sleeve is noticeably shorter than the other or too narrower to put your arms through. Holes in garments, stitching come loose, odd smells (yes…odd smells), cracks, runny dyes, glued products and so on are things to look out for.
- Be suspicious. It’s alright to be a bit suspicious of a vendor who seems too eager to get rid of something or doesn’t allow you the time to carefully examine it. If your instinct tells you that he wants to make a too quick of a sale, there more often than not must be a problem with the product. Take your time and examine the product.
Bargaining & Haggling
- BE TOUGH
- If you spot something you like don’t gush about how much you like or love it to either the vendor nor your shopping companion. If the vendor knows your heart is set on something, he’s got the upper hand and he’s not going to encourage any bargaining. So it becomes even tougher for you to break him and he knows you won’t walk away without it. You have to make him feel that the product is not something you NEED but wouldn’t mind having.
- Let him state his price. Then start bargaining. Start LOW. By low I mean ‘Really Low’ like He says 200 I’d say 50. He says 500 you say 100. Then it’s really important to see how much he comes down. If he comes down a lot like 500 to 300 then you know you can bargain some more and get it for less. But if he goes from 500 to 450 there’s not much scope to bargain. You then raise your price…but remember it works both ways so don’t go up too high in one go instead do it slowly, say 125 or 150 at the most in this case. And he may come down some more, but when he says the same price over and over while you increase your offer slowly you know your stuck. Then follow the next step.
- If he isn’t budging and your sure you can get it for less or you just want to make sure you can’t, then the next step is what I like to call the ‘Walk Away Technique’. This is where you just say forget it and act like it’s not worth it and Walk Away. Most of the time they call you back and say ok they’ll give it to you for less, maybe not what you said but less than what they were offering earlier. Sometimes they won’t call you back, that’s when you know no amount of haggling is going to budge him, then you have to decide for yourself whether it’s worth it and if you really want it or not. When that happens I usually walk away and look around some more (you’d be surprised at the number of times I’ve found a similar piece with another vendor more willing to bargain)and if by the time I’m done for the day I still want it, I go back….and get it.
- Avoid buying Shampoos, conditioners, cosmetics and skin care products from the roadside or even small shops and stalls. A lot of the time they use the original containers but refill it or mix it with other cheaper substances which may do more damage than good.
- Cheap Sunglasses may look good on the outside and when you try them on for a moment, but constantly wearing them can if they are not good quality or can give you a headache or worse spoil your vision.
- Handicrafts and antiques are good road-side buys. Plastic goods, toys, clothing, carpets and textiles are not bad either. Electronics are a No-No..unless your looking for one time use only.
- Carry along Water cause you’ll really need it in the Mumbai weather even in the winter.
- Carry Cash cos there’s no swiping a credit card while street shopping though ATM’s are available if you fall short.
- Go street shopping when you have ample time. It’s never a good experience shopping when your in a rush. Hurried purchases are often regretted and opportunities missed.
At the End of the Day
Shopping the streets of Mumbai is a memorable experience whether you buy 1 thing or a whole bunch of stuff. Look closely cause you never know what you may find amidst the junk. Remember to be tough and don’t fall for or get sweet talked into buying things you don’t want or which you will regret buying later.
My Next Post…Which Streets to Shop in Mumbai!