The markets in Guatemala have some of the best souvenir shopping you can do in Central America. While in Guatemala, I visited markets in Antigua, Panajachel, and Guatemala City. While I enjoyed strolling through, making my purchases and enjoying all the colors, there was one thing that just always put a smile on my face: the Guatemalan market vendors.
These business people have developed a vocabulary of English perfectly suited for tourist buyers. While walking around the markets there are some key phrases you will hear. Here are some of my personal favorites:
10.) What you want to buy?
I like it. Straight forward, and to the point. If they know what you want, they will gladly show you their full inventory of that item.
9.) What are you looking for? T-shirt…blanket…coffee?
A variation of #10. Only this time, they list off the things that people typically want. That way, as customers walk by, they can say “Yes! I do want a blanket!”
8.) Good price for you
Flattery always gets you places. A good price just for me? I must be amazing…
Note: That good price is for everyone. Not just you.
7.) What price you want?
Oh ho ho…The ol’ name-your-price trick. Because vendors expect you to haggle for items, they’ll often begin just by asking you what price you want to pay. That way, they can either look at you like you’re crazy and offer a higher price, or they can end up making more money off you then they would have quoted.
6.) One dollar!
Okay, this one was a little annoying. Vendors would hold up their items and shout “One dollar!” leading buyers to believe that the item was being sold for one dollar. Turns out, they just ask you if you’re crazy and tell you they meant that they accept dollars as payment.
5.) Almost free!
This one was always good for a laugh. Vendors shout out that their products are almost free, yet that could mean anything.
4.) It’s good. Handmade. No Machine.
Heard mostly when looking at woven materials. Handmade goods are typically worth more money that machine-made goods. Therefore, this phrase was used when trying to highlight the quality of the product and increase its value.
3.) Business is business
This one was only heard once, by a woman in Antigua. After asking what price we wanted, she would state business is business. It just made me smile to see this lady just wheelin’ and dealin’ her products.
2.) T-shirt for your boyfriend?
I liked that this guy tried to get specific with meeting buyers’ needs. Like there could easily have been people walking through who heard this and realized they completely forgot about bringing home a souvenir for their boyfriend. Really narrowing down that target market, Mr. Market Vendor. Nice work.
1.) Hey Lady, you want to buy drugs?
Another one that I only heard once, while in Panajachel, but still made me burst out in laughter. Can you imagine being that blunt of a drug dealer in the United States?? Also, I’m a total goodie-goodie, so this guy really missed his mark when assessing his clientele.
Note: Did not buy the drugs.
Heard any classic market vendor phrases lately? Share them in the comments below!