Shopping in China
Shopping in China needs a guide on its own (or maybe several), especially if you are to be ready for all the particularities of the purchasing process in China, including intense negotiations (nothing will actually make you better than the Chinese at that).
China provides a multitude of locations where you can buy things, ranging from department stores to traditional marketplaces and to the hypermarkets that have taken over part of the market share (plenty to go around though). It is safe to shop in all of these locations, with a plus for shopping at department stores or even straight from the factory, because of a lower risk of being scammed. However, going to the marketplace to buy an art object or anything else is perfectly all right, as long as you take any precautions you would in another country. One word of advice: try to be region-specific when buying.
It may be cheaper to buy jade from Shanghai, for example, where it is produced and where the demand and supply have properly adjusted on the market to create the best price-quality combination. The same goes for other products as well.
The marketplaces offer the best place to interact with locals and indulge in a negotiation that you are sure to lose at the end (meaning that what you think is the best bargain ever is probably still more than the best price you could have obtained). A couple of simple rules about negotiating should start with beginning as low as possible your negotiation. This can often mean as low as 10 % of the asking price.
This will both give you a good margin on which to build your negotiation, but it will also help your “face” in relation with the buyer: it shows you are interested, but, at the same time, there you are more than willing to walk away if the price is not right. And that’s exactly what you should do: walk away, while also looking attentively at other products – the seller might rush to get you back (more face for you) and propose a better price.
Never fall for any of the seller’s traps: his children will still get dinner and he is still making a profit from the sale. If he were not, he would not be selling to you at that price.