The Philippines is chockfull of bargain shopping options. You have Divisoria in Manila, Baclaran in Parañaque, and Greenhills Shopping Center in San Juan City.
Established in 1966, Greenhills Shopping Center (or simply "Greenhills") is a favorite destination for shoppers who want to get the most bang for their buck. Clothes, phones, grocery items — you name it, Greenhills has it. If you want to make the most of your time shopping there, better keep the tips below in mind.
Get there ASAP.
Like Divisoria, Greenhills draws huge crowds every day. If you want to literally stay ahead of the pack, go inside as soon as the mall opens at 10:00 A.M. Otherwise, you'll miss out on bargains that a savvier shopper might scoop up before you.
Wear comfortable clothes and footwear.
To say that you'll do a lot of walking in Greenhills would be an understatement. With over 2,000 stores spanning 16 hectares, Greenhills can wear out inexperienced shoppers within minutes.
Luckily, you can brace yourself for the long shopping trip ahead. Wear your flattest, sturdiest, and most comfortable shoes. Make sure your clothes are suitable for hot weather, since there's no air-conditioning in Greenhills. If possible, bring a second set of clothes, since you'll probably be soaking in sweat by the end of the day.
Don't be afraid to explore.
If you'd rather not go through all 2,000 stores, and instead choose to pick out the first items from the first stores you see, know this: Doing that completely defeats the purpose of shopping at Greenhills in the first place!
See, the closer a store is to the entrance/ground floor, the more expensive its items are. So if you want to max out your budget, you'll have to do some heavy lifting. Fortunately, "heavy lifting" in Greenhills isn't as hard as it sounds. All you need are the steps below.
- Give the aisles a quick scan. If the items of two or more adjacent stores look similar to each other, skip them.
- Give the stores a quick scan. Most stores prominently display the items they have on hand, so you can quickly determine whether they have what you're looking for.
- Take a break every now and then. You don't have to walk four hours straight. If you come across a food stall, don't be afraid to sit down and grab a quick bite. You'll need it for the day ahead.
Haggle, haggle, haggle.
We've talked about haggling in the Philippines before, but to recap:
- Bring only as much cash as you need. That way, you won't be tempted to go over budget while shopping at Greenhills.
- Don't name the price you want off the bat. Otherwise, vendors will keep bumping up the price. Instead, name a number that's at least half of what you originally intend to pay for, and bargain from there in increments.
- Keep a neutral face when you're browsing through items. If the vendor notices that you're particularly interested in an item, it'll be difficult to haggle on the price of that item.
- Be nice. Vendors are people, too. If you're pleasant and respectful, they'll treat you the same way, and are more likely to give you a bargain. If not, you're better off shopping somewhere else.
- If you can't haggle, walk away. Avoid doing this if you can. If the vendor seems unpleasant or greedy, however, and you're sure there are better alternatives elsewhere, politely thank the vendor for their time and head for the next store.
Watch out for knock-offs.
If you don't mind knock-offs, you can skip this section. If you do, know that you'll find plenty of those in Greenhills — and that you'll have to be extra careful with them.
Take their smartphones, for example. Some of the "big name" brands are sold for as much as 20 percent off their original price. However, keep in mind that these phones usually don't come with the standard 1-year warranty. Also, there's a good chance that many of them are supplied by, shall we say, disreputable sources.
Greenhills also hawks imitation versions of high-end brands, like Louis Vuitton, Prada, Gucci, Hermes, and Balenciaga. Again, you have two choices when it comes to these items: Be very, very careful when you buy them, or don't buy them at all.
Like most crowded places in the Philippines, Greenhills attracts its fair share of unsavory characters. Keep your valuables out of sight, walk as fast as you can, and stay alert. If you notice anything suspicious, alert the nearest man in uniform ASAP. The quicker you move, the earlier an unsavory character can be apprehended, and the less likely you'll lose anything valuable.
Greenhills isn't your average shopping destination. It's a no-frills place that tests shoppers of all skill levels. Follow the tips above, and you'll be a Greenhills master in no time.