Tips on Not Being Taken Advantage of at a Flower Market in Korea

Visiting the flower market is always a fun experience because you can see all the types of flowers available for you to buy. Depending on the day and time, it can be very busy or empty. Usually, the mornings, anywhere from 7:00am – 9:00am are the busiest. The reason for this is because the flower merchants probably have their flowers on display by 6:30am or so. The flower merchants buy the flowers at the flower auction, which is where all of the large purchases are made. The auction starts at 12:00am (midnight) and goes until the flowers are all sold. So, if you go too early, the merchants won’t be ready, but, if you go too late, all of the good flowers will be gone.

This blog post is similar to the post on Buying Flowers at the Flower Market in Korea, but it focuses more on how to buy flowers when you go to the flower market.

Before I get into some tips on not getting taken advantage of, let me tell you a story. I wanted to buy some flowers for a flower arrangement some time in April 2016. And I needed some tulips, so I saw a young girl ask the merchant how much the tulips cost. The merchant said 20,000 won. However, I knew that the cost was a little lower than this, so I waited for the young girl to leave and then I quietly asked the merchant, how much the tulips were. He told me they were 15,000won. So, I paid 5,000won less, and if you need to buy 10 of these flowers to make an arrangement, you could end up paying much more than other people.

What does this mean?!

Well, the flower market is an open market, meaning anyone there can sell any flower at any price. That means, the exact same flowers can cost 30,000won at one place, and right next to them it can cost you 20,000 won, and for someone else, it could cost 15,000won. The merchants literally make up prices on the spot. So, you may even end up paying two or three times the amount for flowers. The cost may seem cheaper than buying them at a florist, but don’t forget, the florist is going to arrange the flowers into a beautiful design for you and deliver the flowers. So, you have to take all of this into consideration when purchasing flowers at a flower market in Korea.

So, what do you do? 

Well, if you want to go to the flower market just for fun, it might be in your favor to go later in the day. However, flower markets usually close at about 2:00pm, and by noon – 1:00pm during the weekend. So, maybe go at about 11:00am, if you are going to just take a look. Also, the flowers are usually cheaper near the end of the day because the merchants are trying to get rid of the flowers that are left over. However, if you look like you know nothing about flowers, they may try to overcharge you.

So, when you go to the flower market to buy flowers, follow these tips to avoid being taken advantage of by the merchants.

1. Know the name of the flower you are purchasing. This makes a huge difference. Asking, “Hello, how much for these flowers?” versus “Hello, how much for the Pink Revival Roses” can save you anywhere from 2,000-5,000 won a bunch. If you don’t buy flowers often, at least know the main flower name, like Roses, Carnations, etc.

Note: The cut flowers in Seoul, South Korea are usually sold in 1’s, 5’s, 10’s.

2. If you are really novice, make sure to go there when there are a lot of people. It is very difficult for merchants to quote different prices when there are a lot of people, so ask them loudly how much the flowers are. The merchants will have a number in their head as their lowest offer, so at least you won’t pay extra. If you are good at buying flowers and know the names, it’s better to go when there are less people. This way the merchant can charge less. Me, I love to go when there are less people or if there are a lot of people, I make sure to ask quietly when no one is around and give him a look like, “hey, I know how to buy flowers”.

Also, don’t just buy flowers from the first shop you go to. The flower market has probably more than 60 merchants selling flowers, so they will have different prices. The reason for this is because they purchase their flowers at an auction and some of them purchased cheaper types. Also, some of the merchants may be in a rush to leave.

Side note: each flower stall is probably a few square meters large, so it isn’t a large space. That means, you may not be able to find the type of flowers you are looking for. In some cases, florists have to visit multiple flower markets to find a specific flower.

flower gift korea at the Korean flower market

*If you look in the image above, you can see three merchant stalls; a small side portion of one merchant stall on the left side, one main one in the center, and one on the right side.

Note: There are more than 100 rose types, so all red roses aren’t the same. That means, even among red roses there are cheap red roses and expensive ones.

3. Go to the flower market often and just listen in on people buying flowers. When I first started buying flowers, I would just go and listen to the prices the merchants were quoting. At first, they quoted higher prices here and there, but now, they remember my face and they know that I check around for prices, so they think twice before telling me their prices for their flowers.

4. When possible, check the bottom of the flower bunch you buy. A lot of the time, the flower merchant will just choose the flowers for you. Some merchants also don’t even let you touch the flowers. I understand why they do this because the more people touch the flowers, the quicker they die. But, you do have the right to check the state of your flowers and if they are bad, you can tell them to exchange it. But, make sure you do it right when you make the purchase.

We have bought flowers and the flowers in the middle of the bunch were rotten. That stall/merchant has been marked and I  no longer buy flowers from him, but if you don’t go to the flower market often, you just might end up getting disappointed. So, at least, try to check the bottom of the flowers. However, you also need to consider the price you get the flowers for. If the flowers are really cheap, chances are, the flowers are not good quality. So, you also need to be a reasonable shopper, or else, they may not want to sell you any flowers. Remember, the merchants can charge whatever they want. So, if they don’t like you, they may just quote you a ridiculous amount to get rid of you.

The hardest will be if it is your first time going there. Also, if you don’t look Korean, they may try to charge you a little more. And if you can’t speak Korean, the price will probably increase. In the end, there are honest merchants and dishonest merchants, so you have to use sound judgement when you buy flowers at the flower market. However, you can still find good deals if you go to the flower market regularly and check the prices and quality of flowers at more than one stall. But, going to the flower market is just one way you can buy flowers. There are 5 ways you can buy flowers in Korea, check out the post title, “5 Ways You Can Buy Flowers in Korea” for more information.

If you have any questions, please feel free to contact us.

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