A Tale of Two Markets
While in St. Lucia enjoying a rejuvenating week of holidays, my husband Tom and I ventured into the town of Castries. There we found a market with hundreds of local merchants selling spices, vegetables, souvenirs and any wares tourists will buy.
I love to shop, especially in a local market where I can find the island gems. Within less than 20 minutes, though, I realized this was not the type of buying I like to do. Being followed, begged and bantered at does not create a shopping and buying experience that I enjoy. I couldn't wait to leave! I'm not one to cut a shopping trip short—so was my husband ever surprised when, before making any purchases, I said, "Let's get out of here!"
A few days later we found ourselves in a quaint fishing village, wandering through another local market. The merchants in this market were pleasant, and engaged us in conversation about the necklaces and shells that we were interested in. They took time to explain how their crafts were made and how they got up before sunrise to pan for shells. Their local charm and warmth influenced our decision to buy. We had some fun bartering—and then actually felt guilty and told the merchants to keep the change. At their low prices, they would have to sell a lot of necklaces and shells in a day to make any kind of living!
Back on the beach, I took some time to think about these two very different buying experiences. (Yes, I do have a hard time turning off work and not reflecting on the sales experience!)
In the first market, the merchants were talking at me (and even yelling). They did not build rapport, and they didn't try to find out what interested me. They just wanted to sell something to me before I could walk away to the next merchant.