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How to haggle and barter – Ghanaian style

In Accra, getting the best price never goes out of fashion. Here's Time Out's guide to the dos and don'ts of bartering for souvenirs, art and clothes in the capital

© Daniel Neilson
At open-air markets in Accra you'll quickly find that sales strategies can be pretty aggressive. Shopkeepers will swarm if you aren't clear and direct. The concept of 'browsing' doesn't necessarily translate to market shopping, move through the market with purpose. Once you've found what you're looking for, engage the seller - someone who will be very eager to move their wares.

Most stall holders want to hold your attention for a little while - this can be a perfect opening for bartering. Don't be intimidated; the prices are negotiable. The first asking price is always well above what the item usually sells for, especially if you're a tourist.

Negotiating is more of a game or verbal sparring match than an actual battle of wills.

Remember to have a good attitude and smile; the seller usually enjoys bartering as much the customer. If you're in a hurry or not prepared to have a bit of a chat with the seller don't bother, the friendlier you are the sweeter your bartering experience will be.

Haggling can be frustrating if you aren't familiar with it. Be assured that at the Centre of National Culture also known as the 'Arts Centre' in Accra the customer can nearly always begin negotiations at half of the initial quoted price. A good strategy is to ask for the objects 'last price.' The seller will reduce the first price a bit once you ask - it's your game from that point on.

Simple guidelines are to be fair, to consider the value of the object, and to buy from one vendor with a wide variety of goods, if buying more than one item, the shopkeeper will generally agree to a far better price and you're in for a bargain.


Markets in Accra

Makola Market

The loosely defined borders of Makola Market enclose what might be seen as Accra’s most dynamic commercial hub. It’s certainly one of the most entertaining. Hot, noisy and insistent, it’s an initially bewildering sprawl of kitchenware, jewellery, textiles, shoes and anything else your cedi might conceivably buy, hawked from floors, racks, shelves, ceilings and head-perched baskets.Evangelical bands play on stairwells, clothes-filled alleys channel you down dead-ends, sea snails fill plastic buckets and rainbows of peppers lie in towering heaps. Forget the camera, it’s best to just slip into the flow and enjoy it for what it is - a colourful open-air department store spread over several blocks.

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Accra Central

Arts Centre Market (Centre for National Culture)

This is a popular location for tourists wanting a one-stop-shop for arts and crafts. The stalls are crammed full with textiles, carvings, bags, music instruments, clothing and jewellery. The stalls continue through the main hangar, and into an outdoor market that holds the more interesting treasures such as metal ornaments, drums, wood furnishing, antiques and leather goods. There is less hassle at the back of the market. All prices are negotiable.

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Kaneshie Market

Kaneshie Market is on the road out west of Accra. It is very much like Makola Market – a sprawling chaos of stalls, shops and street vendors. Everything you could possibly imagine can be bought here. It’s also an important transport hub with tro tro and regional buses picking up and dropping off passengers. However, if you wanted to see a market for the experience (and it really is an experience), Makola Market is more accessible.

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Accra Central