My Captor

chinaI went shopping the other day at the Xiushui Outdoor Market in Beijing with some friends. Exhausting experience, but I loved it. You just gotta go there if you are ever in Beijing. If you go, though, be prepared. You'll not be alone. Walk through that entrance and you enter a different world .... I made a new friend in there ... this sweet kid here. She was a charming teenager who taught me an extremely valuable business lesson. One I'll never forget. Notice her, ah, gentle -- yet persistent -- negotiating technique in the picture below. Strong kid, I can assure you. You see, she wanted 850 RMB for a sweater. I wanted to pay 80. Ok, we were far apart, but who the hell knows what anything is worth in this place, so I decided "look around a little bit and come back." Wrong answer. She wanted to negotiate more.
 
It took me 10 minutes to get out of her 20 square foot booth (her store, actually ... one among hundreds lined up along the street). She had me cornered. I finally had to shove my way past her as gently as I could to get into the street so I could get away. She had amazing leverage in that little body of hers. After I got out of the booth, she chased me and grabbed my arm. Really strong kid. 
So, we took our negotiations to the street. You negotiate by tapping numbers into a calculator and going back and forth. Very little English in the place. There was a bit of yelling with this one, too. And back and forth we went. Right in the middle of the street. Now, I'm 6 feet and 185 pounds. She was 5 feet and probably 90 pounds. But she was fearless. And she had something else going for her -- she really wanted that sale. We still couldn't agree on a price, so I decided to try to leave again.

Wrong move.

After literally dragging her about 50 feet up the street -- much to the delight of the several hundred people watching this -- I started to break down. My heart was pounding. But strangely, she didn't even break a sweat. She probably does this more than I do. My friend, Danese Cooper, snapped this picture just as my captor won the battle and dragged me back that very same 50 feet to her booth. 100 RMB. Sold.

My lesson? Never give up. Never!
Comments:

Jim: Hilarious! I hope you gave the kid 750RMB for the entertainment and life lesson you learned from her!

Posted by Ian on June 13, 2004 at 08:07 PM JST #

Nope. I drove her right down to 100 RMB. I gave her a tip, though ... :)

Posted by Jim Grisanzio on June 14, 2004 at 03:04 AM JST #

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