Ask Beijing Today is our weekly attempt to make life in China less confusing. Whether it’s tracking down the papers to apply for a Chinese green card, dealing with KTV-crazy neighbors or finding the best buy on saffron, we are happy to help.
Q. I’m looking for places where I can work and collaborate with other workers and entrepreneurs. Are there any such places in Beijing?
A. You got it. Nowadays, more and more young people come to Beijing to start up their businesses. We recommend two famous entrepreneurship-themed coffee shops in Zhongguancun and Haidian districts – the paradise for startups in China: 3W Coffee and the Garage Café. Hope you can find some business partners there.
(010) 8262 7127
Q. What’s the best place to get bagels in Beijing?
A. Ms. Shanen’s bread shop is really famous here, and most foreigners regard it as the best option. It has been operating in Shunyi District for a long time, and now it even has a branch in Chaoyang. Ms. Shanen’s bagels are also available for delivery in many parts of the city, as well as for sale in places like Jenny Lou’s sometimes.
Closed on Mondays
Building 13, Sanjiefang, Jiuxianqiao, Chaoyang
(010) 6435 9561
Q. I’m interested in getting some suits made in Beijing and am looking for a good, inexpensive tailor. Are there any good tailors in Beijing?
A. Check out some of the tailors in 3.3 Mall, just north of the Sanlitun Village area. You might find some who speak English and have a good range of fabrics and prices. A key piece of advice is never to accept the suit until it is finished exactly to your liking. It is worth the effort to have the end product exactly as you want it.
Q. Where can I find a good interpreter in Beijing? I am going to be conducting interviews in Beijing and need an assistant to help translate.
A. There are quite a lot of companies here doing interpretation. We can recommend a couple: seekpanda.com and freeiva.com. As to whether they fit your needs, we can only say it’s up to you. Good luck!
Q. I enjoy the art of haggling and would like to know how to go about doing this when visiting China. Be polite or insist forcefully? How can I tell when a seller has been pushed to his or her limit, and what is a typical time frame to get there? What kind of negotiated discounts can be expected for various product categories (electronics, clothing, food, driver hire, etc.)?
A. We happen to know someone who loves to haggle at these places and has been doing so for over a decade. Her suggestions are:
1) Find a Chinese to help
Have a Chinese person bargain for you. The vendor will tend to be nicer and more open to negotiating with a familiar face.
2) Shop around and walk away often
There are dozens of other stalls in that market offering the exact same thing. Before negotiation, you should wander around a bit and check if other places offer it. If so, you can then have several “practice” negotiations to establish some price ceilings. Then walk away and try again elsewhere until you get a price you’re happy with.
3) Do not feel bad or try to be nice
If they’re willing to sell at a given price, it’s a win-win for both of you and honestly they probably got the better end of the bargain. Also, for every foreigner that bargains them down from 800 RMB to 80 RMB, there’s another one who pays 600 RMB. So really, don’t feel bad. Think of the negotiating process as a fun game even if the stakes aren’t high.