A good dealer must have shrink tendencies. Once you spot a prospective client, you have to mentally strip them bare, analyse them even before they begin speaking. It’s a war tactic: to exercise some form of power and control over someone, you must know them first. You have to intuitively be a good judge of character. Some clients are easier to convince and extort money from than others; this is where your character judging abilities come to your aid.
It is a battle of wits, tongues and smells at the city market. The clueless clients that come in for the first time are gold; like baby antelopes to a starved lion. They have confusion plastered all over their face. They are uncertain of which stall to enter. The dealers rush to their “rescue”. First to grab the customer wins the race.
“Unataka nini leo Madam? Samaki, Nyama, Kuku? Zote ziko.
“I’m looking for chicken. Ni fresh?”
“Kabisa. Hapa hakuna kitu inalalanga. Tukupimie ya ngapi?”
“Kilo ni how much?”
“500 tu. Nikuwekee?”
Once the deal is struck, the peddler then proceeds to measure the amount requested. Sometimes it’s a whole chicken, sometimes they rip and hack the poor bird into pieces for the sake of customers who want small portions.
The peddlers lurk around the corners of the market. They are like the Mitumba traders in open air markets who don’t want to enrich the city council by getting stalls. Why pay for a stall when you can intercept most of the clients anyway?
It is a game of numbers and words. Marketing at its best. Once a client complains about high prices, you give them silly excuses about how there’s a shortage of rain and therefore cows ain’t feeding and there’s less meat in the market. The more twists and turns your story has, the better. And some customers barely manage to haggle coz of the stench. Most just want to get in, grab their meat and get out as soon as possible. It’s a win-win scenario on the peddler’s part.
At the city market, there is no fixed price or weights. Prices and quality vary from one dealer to the next. It’s all about sheer luck for the customer. Some days you strike a really good deal, some days you get ripped off.
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