Bargaining at Hötorgets Market

I love going to Hötorget’s fruit and flower market. It’s located in the big square near Stockholm central station on the side of Sergel Torgs. Hötorget is filled with small stalls with men, usually Arab and hilarious, selling strawberries, asparagus, and the latest bouquet of roses.

The open air market is my favorite spot because you can buy in-season fresh produce for cheap. Sometimes you can buy at half price of what you would pay at the local ICA. The guys working in the stalls will let you taste the food and most importantly, let you bargain.

Bargain, bargain, bargain, that’s how they work. Remember they’re mainly Arabs and their market system, like the Indian market system, is based on bargaining.

DN covered how bargaining works; which I think for many Swedes is mysterious. The only places I have seen in Sweden where I can bargain are places run by immigrants. No wonder there had to be an article on how bargaining works.

I am not the best bargain person – I just cannot haggle the way my aunts can in India and still walk away from what appears to be a good deal only to find that the shopkeepers cuts the price another 20%. Crazy! And then the deal is made.

For those of you like me, who aren’t the best bargainers or don’t know how, here is how to do it. Hötorgets market or anywhere:

1. The morning time and lunch time mark the highest prices for produce and flowers. This is when shoppers don’t have the time to bargain hunt so they buy and go. Produce in the morning is also the freshest since pickups occur early morning from the wholesale markets.

You won’t get much of bargain at this time but if you buy several items, you should be able to shave at least 10% of your total cost.

2. By late afternoon, shopkeepers intensify their battle with each and begin cutting prices. For the most part, these are cartels, they already know what prices to drop to and eventually all stalls drop to that price.

Your goal is to push them a bit further. Four boxes of strawberries for 50Kr? Make that five boxes for 50kr.

3. At 5PM, the markets will begin to close at Hötorget. They have to unload fast if they don’t want to pack things up or throw them away. Very delicates fruits, vegetables, and flowers will not survive to the next and must be sold.

Prices will further drop when buying in bulk: three bouquets of roses, 400 grams of cherries, 5 boxes of berries, etc.

You need to squeeze another box or cut the price another 20% to whatever your shopkeeper tells you.

If he tells you “no way!” then walk away. It’s all good, he will either not care to bargain or chase you and take your offer. If it is the former, then go to another and bargain the prices you want.

Whatever you Swedes do, you should bargain at the market. And you should go to Hötorget and buy fresh produce from them when possible. Because it is awesome and supports small folks and it is fun way to shop.

And for you Swedes with that look of aghast of buying produce on the street, get real. Street shopping is done all around the world and just because the food isn’t neatly packed on the shelf or sold at a saluhall, doesn’t mean it is any less delicious.

Oh, and women will fare the best at bargaining. Because we can totally bat our eyes and look stupid so a seller takes pity on us.

4 thoughts on “Bargaining at Hötorgets Market”

  1. I have lived in Sweden nearly 10 years and have never been to the market. I must put that on my summer bucket list.

  2. Yeah, you should always bargain at Hötorget. But bargaining is a time consuming process and most people are happy to shop at the prices that already are lower than grocerystores.

    My best tip is if you want to buy roses to your loved one, shop here. You can get two dozen large roses for 100-200 SEK (60-80SEK per flower at the Florist) depending on how you manage to bargain. And always always shop at closingtime =)

  3. Hey, that’s good to know there’s such market at Hötorget! I’m planning a culinary trip to Stockholm in a couple of weeks, and I certainly know how to bargain cause I lived in Asia for many years. I’ll make sure to check up on that market, and maybe even will take some of the most durable and unusial stuff home.

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