Bag a bargain

Fashionista. That’s the one word that comes to mind when thinking about Dodzi Anku, our guest commuter for today. Maybe living in both Singapore and Canada at two different times of her life had something to do with it. We’ve been through the trenches together, right from the days when she killed my work in my early days as a copywriter here at Origin8 Saatchi & Saatchi. From dark poetry to fashion tips, she’s done it all. She just started a new blog. You may wanna check it out: Enjoy. Comment as usual.


Where two or more cars are gathered in traffic, there in the midst of them are all kinds of traders selling all manner of goods. Crawling through the thick traffic heading towards 37 from the Spintex Road on a typical weekday morning, I saw a street trader haggling with a passenger over the price of some children’s football jerseys. The man behind the wheel was obviously a keen football fan, having a number of football club souvenirs in his car. The footaholic mentioned a price to the trader, who laughed and shook his head. Undeterred, Mr. Footaholic folded up the jersey and handed over a few notes to the trader.

The trader, thinking Mr. Footaholic had changed his mind, reached out for the money but recoiled his hand like he’d been stung when he saw it wasn’t the price he quoted. Now it was Mr. Footaholic’s turn to act shocked. He promptly withdrew his hand of cash, and almost shoved the jersey back into the trader’s face. He refused to take it, and flashed a smile that beamed, “oh my brother let’s work this out.” Mr. Footaholic wasn’t having any of it. As if fate was spinning things in his favour, the traffic suddenly started speeding up. Mr. Footaholic waved the hand of cash in front of the trader’s face, almost as if to say, “This is your last chance.” It was the moment of truth. Who would win? Who would lose?

That incident took me down memory lane to one scorching hot afternoon in Accra. After trudging through a maze of shops and predator-like traders, I finally spotted a top I really liked. Liked? Who am I kidding; it was love at first sight! Right before my eyes I saw flashes of future dates, parties and hang-outs with me wearing this top. The guy pawning the top must have had hawk eyes because he managed to spot me discreetly eyeing his wares from afar. “Akos, bra!” he called out to me. “Wei deε, εyε wo dea!” Ooh yes, this brother was speaking my language. It was my kind of thing indeed.

In the back of my mind, I quickly ran through all the bargaining tricks I knew. First trick: feign disinterest. I scowled at Brother Future-top, looked away from him then looked back again.

Second trick: feign slight irritation. I came to a grudging stop in front of Brother Future-top, and waved my hand in a “what?” motion, and asked him just that. Without skipping a beat, he launched into a sales attack. As he rattled away, I took the top from him and held it to my chest. I felt the earth move beneath me. Clearly, we were meant to be together.  I think I must have smiled because when I snapped back to reality, Brother Future-top was coaxing, “εyε fε, wonhu?” It was more than nice. I didn’t reply.

Instead, I moved onto the third trick: find fault. I waved the top is disdain, claiming it was of low quality. Wrong move.  He released an arsenal of reasons otherwise.

Fourth trick: slash the price in three and start bargaining from the lowest third. I asked him the price of the top, gasped in disbelief at his answer, but wasted no time doing some serious kung-fu on it. He laughed like my offer was the funniest thing he’d ever heard.

Ding! Ding! The bargaining bout was on. After much back and forth, we reached a deadlock. I tried every trick I knew but Brother Future-top wouldn’t budge. Somewhere in the back of my mind I started to hear the popular old school song, “Let’s just kiss and say goodbye.” Brother Future-top was about to become Brother Never-top!

I had one last trick: walk away and pray they call you back to settle. I did just that and craned to hear another “Akos, bra!” When he finally called out, it was like music to my ears. I swung back around and moved in for the kill, eyes gleaming. I gave him the money, which he took unwillingly, and quickly snatched the new member of my wardrobe into my loving arms. Feeling very pleased with myself, I virtually floated away, only to turn the corner to find fancier versions of my beloved top being sold at a much cheaper price. I came crashing back to earth.

All over town, whether in traffic or in the luring markets of Accra, swarms of people engage in the war of  price haggling; feigning disinterest, disbelief, anger, moments of joy, disdain, but nonetheless, money always manages to exchange hands while goods quietly slip in shopping bags. Hassle-free shopping? No, hassling, that’s shopping.

But is every bargain worth bargaining for?


About Kwaku Dankwa

By day, I'm an advertising copywriter. That's what I've done all my working life (National Service doesn't count). Husband of Esther, father of Jesse and twin boys Mark and Andrew, and servant of Christ. I previously wrote a blog on the dramatic side of public transport in Accra, "The Daily Commute: From Bridge to Ridge." Enjoy.
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12 Responses to Bag a bargain

  1. Raj says:

    Dee, nice one there. This experience makes me miss you more and also our early morning shopping in Markola. Keep it up. Your last question though brings my own experience from the otherside of the world, where you don´t have to bargain but when there is a sale and the price looks really enticing you go for the kill and only to go back later to find that the same item has been reduced even further but unfortunately on your old reciept it clearly states NO REFUNDS ON SALE ITEMS. This is the picture, I bought a bag for €20 from an original price of €39.99 and i thought it was the best thing ever happened, after two weeks the €20 was reduced to €15, after another two weeks it was €12 and at €9 and just yesterday, it finally got to €4.95. So I also ask was the first price really a bargain???

  2. florence says:

    its a good thing i wasnt at a lecture when i read this, i would surely have been sent out! Great post, brings back lots of makola and in traffic memories.
    I thought the divide into three and start bargaining rule was sheer wickedness on my mums part but now i see its the rule of the day.
    I esp like it when i spot sth and palm some 2cedi and just go like : mekra 2cedi pe!’

  3. Adwoa says:

    finally read it. i love it! slow, what happened in the end… another trick is to show a few notes in small denominations crammed in ur palm to give the impression u r almost done shopping and really have no money left.

  4. Kwaku Dankwa says:

    Dodzi, I really gotta know. What happened with the jersey case? I can see them settling this at some bus stop down the lane. Both go away smiling? (Unless the buyer discovers the shirt was some cheap Chinese sweatshop imitation…)

  5. Guy Lou says:

    Raj, if an item is on sale and its oversize or not beautiful, NEVER buy until its almost out of season.
    if its really nice and of “normal size” then please do not delay.

    Good bargains know no colour,creed,religion or status.

    Everybody loves it.

  6. florence says:

    lol, this here is a lean mean bargaining machine!

  7. dannie says:

    Really enjoyed this article 🙂 especially where you took the top into your “loving arms”.

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