Sports: Bargaining for Oakland Raiders Caps in the Island of of the Gods

American Football

The Balinese have a very strong culture, but they are also very receptive to other cultures – especially American pop culture. They love Harley Davidson, Jack Daniels – does that extend to the Oakland Raiders?

Bargaining can be daunting for the uninitiated. The rule of thumb is to ask the price, offer half what you have been told, and bargain upwards and downwards to a price halfway in the middle. Is there a better way?

Sometimes I forget my own advice, and this afternoon was one of them: before you go shopping for stuff at hawker stalls in countries where you have to bargain, first check out the prices at fixed price stores.

This will give you an important point of reference because the old “offer them half the asking price and compromise half way in the middle” doesn’t always work. Unless you don’t mind being ripped off.

I’ve been in the market for Oakland Raiders caps to use as “props” when doing “Reppin’ the Raiders” photo shoots ever since I gave all of Oakland Raiders caps away on my last trip to Bali 18 months ago.

Preferably I wanted knockoffs because I’m not about to give away any more caps that I paid full price for.

That is what happened to me 18 months ago on my last visit to Bali. I would ask people to put on an Oakland Raiders cap and pose with me.

So what could I do when they looked at me with their big brown eyes and said, “This cap is very beautiful! Can I please keep it?

After several false starts over the last few weeks – in both Bangkok and Ubud – I gave it yet another try this afternoon in the back alleys of Kuta.

Several small shops and hawkers’ stalls were selling T-shirts, tank tops, and caps for practically EVERY professional sports team in the United States – including the Golden State Warriors – except the Oakland Raiders.

The hawkers were intent on selling me something, and they just couldn’t under why when they asked me “what colour” and I said “black” I wouldn’t buy ANYTHING that was “black”.

“It has to be for MY team and not just ANY team,” I said. But I don’t think they understood.

And then … just when I thought my treasure hunt was about to end … there was one last shop, and a wall full of caps awaited.

One of the caps was gray. I looked at it closely, and there was a shield … and the 2 most beautiful words in the English language emblazoned above the shield: “OAKLAND RAIDERS”!

“How much is this cap?” I asked the shopkeeper, trying to appear nonchalant..

“250,000 rupiah,” the owner of the shop said.

“Oh,” I said, and pretended to be interested in something else.

“You want tank top? I give you cheap price. Only 300,000 rupiah!”

The prices started dropping as quickly as overripe mangos during a tropical downpour.

I returned to the cap. The shop owner lowered her price to 200,000 rupiah. I shook my head.

“Okay, how many you buy?” she asked.

I picked it up, and there was another one underneath it, only it was black. “Perfect for photo opps!” I thought. I really wanted to buy both of them so I told her I wanted to buy two.

That’s when it started to get complicated. Were we talking about one cap or 2 caps?

“Okay, I sell you 2 cap, 250,000 rupiah.”

I shook my head.

“Okay, how much you pay?” she asked.

I pay 50,000 rupiah,” I said.

She frowned, but lowered her price to 200,000 rupiah for 2 caps. Then 150,000 rupiah for 2 caps. When I stood my ground, she said, “Please, must pay more than 100,000 rupiah for 2 cap!”

“Okay,” I said, “How about 101,000 rupiah?”

This struck the woman hilariously funny. She burst out laughing. Struggling to regain her composure, he said, “Please 120,000 rupiah!”

This went back and forth, and finally I said, “101,000 rupiah is my final offer!”

The woman smiled and said, “Okay, 101,000 rupiah.” I opened my wallet to and extracted a red coloured bill.

But when I reached in my pocket for the 1,000 rupiah coin, she waved her hand and said, “No need!”

Happy to get my hands on 2 Oakland Raiders caps, I was equally worried that I might have been ripped off the way I had been ripped off by an unscrupulous taxi driver a week earlier in Ubud.

I had come to terms with the exchange rate: just drop 4 zeros from the price in rupiah for a VERY rough US dollar equivalent.

But I had NO idea what the price of a cap should be.

I continued my way to a nearby shopping mall. There were no shops selling NFL fan gear, but I did find a couple of fixed price outlets that had other kinds of caps on sale.

Much to my relief, caps were selling for between 299,000 and 489,999 rupiah apiece. I’m sure they were of a better quality than the 2 caps I purchased for 50,000 rupiah each.

More importantly, none of them had a shield with the words “Oakland Raiders” emblazoned above it.

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