Did you know?
There isn’t a better bargaining trick than walking away. Threatening to leave usually reveals if the tradesman or woman is willing to sell for less.
As an international visitor you may not want to spend time in big shopping malls looking for souvenirs or goodies from your trip to South Africa. The vibrant culture of street sellers in South Africa is a great alternative way to shop for souvenirs. You can pick up art and crafts on the sides of the city roads and along many commuter and tourist routes.
Whether you’re looking for some classical beadwork, wire art objects or a pair of sunglasses, energetic young men and women will be more than happy to sell them to you. And remember, if you bargain with these informal traders, the price will go down.
There are many different kinds of roadside shopping. Some of the country’s artists and craftspeople support their families by selling their art on the roadside. Street sellers are often extremely talented artists and when buying some pottery, beadwork, wire art or other creatively crafted items, you are buying a unique souvenir to take home with you.
These items are also deeply rooted in South African culture. Wire art, for example, has its origins in the hills of Zululand, and stems from a tradition where young boys made (and still make) their own toys with the limited resources available to them - in this case, discarded wire and metal.
An altogether different group of street sellers are the thousands of street hawkers who have chosen the busy intersections in the country’s major cities as their marketplace. You might have misplaced your mobile phone charger or you might be looking for a Bafana Bafana tee-shirt; they'll sell it to you.
With all of South Africa's street sellers, bargaining is part of the exchange. Whether you are dealing with a street seller's enthusiastic pitch or a tradesperson who is convincing you about the quality of their art, the price you agree on today might change again tomorrow. The only yardstick is to be fair in your negotiations.