How Hilo Bargains
Monday Musings from Melinda by Melinda M.
Picking up my daughter from the Kamehameha Schools bus stop at the mall, I passed by the guy who usually sells kulolo on the side of the road. Sometimes he sells poi, too, and this particular day was my lucky day: he was selling poi AND laulau.Yessir! Dinner problems solved! I turned the car around, pulled up behind another customer and got out of the car, ready to make my delicious purchase.
The sign said 4 laulau for $10 and 1 pound of poi for $5. Since it was only 3 of us for dinner, that seemed fine. I preemptively apologized that it was possible I had no dollars in my purse, explaining, as I rummaged through it, that my kids were always squeezing me dry so l’m never quite sure what I have on me. Ah yes! A 20! Phew.
Then, just as I calculate that what I’m ordering equals $15, he tells me that actually, he’s already all out of the 1 lb./$5 bags and only has 2 lb./$10 bags on hand. After joking about “upselling” me and me confirming that the sum is now $20, he makes the ultimate Hilo bargain: he reduces the price from $10 to $8. Yes – he did the haggling, only if he’s the seller, I don’t think we can call it “haggling,” can we? He felt bad knowing that I only wanted 1 lb and planned on spending $5 so he’d sell me the 2 lb. bag at a voluntarily reduced price. I never made a fuss or indicated that I was unhappy with buying the bigger bag. He just offered it.
And that is what bargaining is like in Hilo. Because he is not the only one who’s made this kind of deal with me. The vendors at the farmers market do this often, too. And it’s funny because I’ll hear others – who are likely visiting – try to talk vendors down. I tried doing that when I first moved to Hilo, too, but there’s no incentive for them to bargain. Not before 2 pm anyway. And yet, almost every Saturday when I make my purchases, a vendor will throw in an extra piece or 2 of the vegetable I bought or throw in a fruit I was eyeing or round the total price DOWN without me ever asking or haggling or bargaining.
That’s Living Hilo Style!