The Bazaarista Battle Plan

SPOT.ph shopping expert Leona Laviña-Panutat shares a list of tips to help you navigate through the crazy crowds, find the best bargains, pick the perfect gifts, and avoid buyer’s remorse.

Its the BER months once again and you know what that means...SHOPPING! (For others, that is). Time to tick off the names on your Christmas list. Here’s how to hit the bazaars without ending up feeling like Scrooge.

The writer in a comfortable--and practical--bazaar get-up
The writer in a comfortable--and practical--bazaar get-up

Tip #1: Know where to go.

Not all bazaars are created equal, some a lot better than others. It would help if you know someone who’s already been to a particular bazaar you want to visit. They can advise you on whether it’s worth the entrance fee or not. Some bazaars that are sure to be worth going to: The Rockwell Urban Bazaar, Christmas Wish Bazaar (Makati Sports Club), Cuenca Bazaar (Alabang), Fashion Palooza (A. Venue).


Tip #2: Know when to go.

Try to hit the bazaars on the first day. If that isn’t possible, go on the last day. The first day guarantees complete merchandise and first dibs on everything. The last day gives you the best deals. Vendors usually don’t want to haul all of their goods back home so they give extra discounts just before the bazaar ends. Lunch time is a great time to go since the crowds are much thinner since most of the customers are out eating.


Tip #3: Comfort is key but do look your best

Everyone goes to bazaars, and we mean everyone. You never know who you might run into-could be your ex-boyfriend or your future husband.

You wouldn’t want to look harassed and stressed out when you bump into them, right? We’re not suggesting that you go out there with a face full of make up and your fiercest heels, but try to make an effort to look nice and neat. My typical bazaar outfit would consist of a tank top, a roomy skirt and ballet flats. The tank top allows you to try on jackets, tops and dresses with ease while the skirt lets you fit pants and shorts without exposing yourself. The ballet flats are a snap to remove when trying on other pairs of shoes, plus they protect your toes in case you get accidentally stepped on when the bazaar is crowded.


Tip #4: Lug the right luggage.

Be sure to bring a big, lightweight sack to keep all your purchases in one place. This lets you browse through the stalls without trouble plus it guarantees that you don’t leave any purchases behind. Plus, you’ll be helping Mother Earth by skipping all those plastic bags.

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A bazaarista’s trusty toolkit would include: a calculator, a bag for purchases, a shopping list, and of course, a wallet
A bazaarista’s trusty toolkit would include: a calculator, a bag for purchases, a shopping list, and of course, a wallet

Tip #5: Cash or Plastic?

Bring both! While most bazaars prefer cash, a growing number of vendors now accept major credit cards. It’s also good to have your card just in case you run out of cash because of all the crazy good deals.


Tip #6: Be prepared.

Make a list of all the people you want to give presents to. Tick off each person as you make each purchase. You can also group together the ones you want to give identical presents to; this will ensure that you have the proper quantity plus it’ll help give you an edge when bargaining. More purchases usually get bigger discounts.


Tip #7: Keep your eye on the prize but be good to yourself too.

When shopping for oneself, prepare a list of your must-haves and stick to it. It’s quite easy to be distracted by all the pretty little things around you and you might make a purchase that you may soon regret.
Allow yourself a little trinket or two for being good.


Tip #8: Make new friends

Befriend the owners of the stalls that you love. They can inform you of the bazaars that they will be joining in the future, they can reserve things for you and you get first pick of their new arrivals.



Tip #9: When in love, go for the kill.

When you spot something that you absolutely love or is perfect for someone on your list, BUY IT. The vendors in bazaars aren’t big time business folks yet so their stocks are very limited. They might not have your size anymore if, later on, you decide to go back.


Be nice, and it’ll be easier to haggle
Be nice, and it’ll be easier to haggle

Tip #10: Be careful not to miss anything.

Carefully inspect each stall. Since the racks are usually full and crowded, the merchandise may not be displayed to their full potential. Be sure to take time to inspect what each vendor has to offer. We once almost missed a stall that was selling imported designer brands at 1/4th of the price because none of the clothes were displayed on mannequins-they were just bunched together in several racks.


Tip #11: Keep your eyes and your taste buds open.

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No, you shouldn’t shop when you’re hungry, but do leave some room in your tummy for the delectable treats that can be found in bazaars. Not only do they make yummy midday snacks, you might discover something that would make a great present.


Tip #12: Keep an open mind

Some vendors also have shops in the malls and you might think twice about checking them out, just because you feel like you’ve seen their goods before. Don’t! Take time to check out their merchandise, too. You can’t haggle in the mall but you can definitely ask for a discount at the bazaar. They’re usually quite generous with the discounts because bazaar rental rates are a lot cheaper than mall rates-trust us, it’s happened before!


Tip #13: Enjoy!

Don’t stress out. Part of the joy of purchasing something is the hunt. If you can’t find what you’re looking for, then it’s off to the next bazaar. Bring a friend or your mom and make a date out of it.
Discover cool new products together and try out new food vendors.
Shopping should be a fun break, not a tiring chore.


See SPOT.ph’s list of bazaars this month! Click here.

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