Tourist at Silk Market Gets “Special Price, Just for Him”

Carl Henderson

BEIJING — When Carl Henderson heard a merchant at Beijing’s Silk Market offer him a “special price, just for him,” he couldn’t believe his luck.

“I turned around, thinking he must have been talking to someone else,” he told reporters. “But no, he was talking to me.”

As Henderson browsed the racks of designer clothing and electronics, he was impressed by the swift and proactive assistance, as well as the barrage of compliments from shopkeepers.

“Gosh, the people here are so nice. Everyone keeps calling me handsome,” marveled the 35-year-old regional sales manager from Utah. “I guess I do look a little like Brad Pitt.”

The Silk Market, with over 400 retail booths, is an integral stop for Beijing tourists. Henderson, on the last leg of a frantic five-day trip, was in a scramble to get presents for his friends and family.

As the afternoon wore on, the personalized deals continued to stream in.

“Just look at the deal I got on this Louis Vuitton handbag,” said Henderson in amazement as he handed 2,000 yuan to a clerk with a calculator. “What a steal!”

Two hours and three visits to the ATM later, Henderson had completed his shopping in record time.

“I’ve got LV for the missus and brand new iPhones for the kids,” he said, beaming.

After a meal of Kung Pao chicken at the upstairs floor food court, which he described as “totally authentic,” Henderson wondered if he had paid more than he should have.

“Now that I think about it, I probably could have haggled with them a bit more,” he mused as he zipped up his fanny pack. “But the shopkeepers said they would go bankrupt if they went any lower on the price.”

“These guys work hard,” he continued. “I would hate for them lose money.”

As Henderson made his way out of the market, the merchant who sold him the LV bag waved to him. Henderson stopped to take a picture with his newfound friend.

“I’ll never forget that guy,” Henderson said wistfully. “Or the special price he gave, just for me.”

At press time, Henderson was explaining to U.S. customs officials why his checked luggage contained a large Lovis Vuitton handbag and three 16-gigabyte iPlones.

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