At market as in most countries, prices are not fixed but negotiated. Ghana has its own twist on this however. People are willing to haggle a little with you but most shops will have a similar if not identical starting point. Your business negotiation is always done with a smile, and a lighthearted attitude so not offend or make the vendor think that you do not like them or their goods.
Today I had the task of buying a bicycle. I need some form of transportation to get to my schools and to meetings at the GES (Education office). I asked the Resource Center’s caretaker, a former teacher, getting close to retirement for the best place to start and he offered to come with me. We asked around the office but only one man had purchased a bicycle recently and it was for his daughter so we were not sure of the going rate. Other volunteers over the last 3 years have paid 70 – 130 Ghana C. I was prepared to spend 100. This is a lot of money because an income is often 400 GC. ($150 CDN = 100 GC)
Well we went to about 7 places and all started at 150 GC for the bikes with 3 gears and 120 for those with no gears. At each place I was directed to the youngest sales person, likely because they spoke English best, and they just shook their heads when I suggested 100 for a geared bike. At one place they had me try out a bike that wiggled so much I thought I had just reached my 90th birthday. They had a good natured chuckle and I joined in. In the end I went back to the 3rd or 4th place I visited to get a 3 gear bike at 110 GC, the best price I seemed to get.
Once the price was settled, I had choice of bikes in the category I chose. They are used bicycles, mostly from China and often with stickers still on them. Some had broken bells, bald tires and disconnected wires. All were “women’s” touring type with carriers and bells. I chose a silver beauty with a brown seat (being convinced it would not get as hot in the hotter weather to come). It has a back flasher and a peddle powered front light for rides after the 6:30 sunset.
All in all I was quite delighted and my companion who said little in the process praised me, insisting on proudly pushing the bike ahead of me as we both walked back to the GES. A successful day!