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Sunday, May 20, 2012


Today we went to visit the equator. It was cool because there was an actual line across the ground to show where it was, and on either side of the line was a type of bowl with a hole in the bottom, to demonstrate the way water drains in different directions in the different hemispheres. There was also a bowl right on the line, and apparently in that one the water drains straight down.
We spent a lot of time perusing and purchasing at the shops along the road, and all of us left with fun souvenirs. In Uganda, most purchases involve a process of bartering, so the stated price my not be the price you wind up paying. Many of the shops sold the same or similar items, but each of them was asking a different price. What do you think are the positive and negative effects of multiple vendors selling the same items for different prices? Do you think that a strong, sustainable business model can be made utilizing the barter system, and do you think it hurts a business if they refuse to barter in a culture where it is expected?


  1. The positive of multiple businesses offering the same products is that customers can go from store to store to find the cheapest price. I personally did this with many items and would tell one store that another store offered it cheaper in an effort to try to et an even lower price. I did notice that some stores charged up to two times as much as others which is due to the owners setting a skimming pricing strategy in which they hope to get dumb tourists to pay more than they should. I think it hurts a business to barter in a culture where it is expected because customers will leave the store and go elsewhere if the prices at the store are not competitive. I went to one store there that refused to barter, and I left immediately because their prices were high. I think that a strong sustainable business model can be developed off of the barter system. If vendors intentionally set their prices high and customers barter the price down to a fair or slightly higher price than the cost, both the customers and business owners leave satisfied. The customers believe they got a good deal and the business owners get either equal to or more money than the product costs.

  2. I had such a blast at the Equator! It was such a good picture-taking opportunity, and afterwards it was nice to have the opportunity to shop in the little places nearby. I agree with Annie, I think a positive aspect of multiple vendors selling the same items for different prices is that you are able to shop around and find the product you want for the cheapest offered price. However, this could also be a negative aspect if say, you want a particular color or pattern of purse that only a high priced vendor is selling. I think when these businesses refuse to barter, they are definitely hurting themselves. I too, had to walk away a few times due to high prices, and vendors refusing to lower them. This drives away customers and potential purchases, which are necessary to their sustainability.

  3. It was very cool to be able to stand in both the Northern and the Southern Hemispheres! The shopping was also very fun! I personally did not like the bartering system. I found it to be very stressful. I think multiple shops selling similar products is a benefit for customers (so that they can pick the cheapest prices), but not for the sellers. Selling similar products puts the focus on the price for competition purposes and drives it downward. Bartering is just a weird concept for me, I don't really understand why they do it...we are just used to a set price. If the prices are fixed they would most likely experience an increase in profit, especially in tourist areas.
    -Micah Garton

    1. After visiting several other shops, I would like to point out that most tourist shops offer the same products. I think that tourist shops should be more directed to the spot which they are located at. For example at the equator the shops should have more t-shirts referring to the equator and the same for the Nile. I think this would bring in more revenue for the shops.

  4. The equator was so much fun! A great place to take pictures and shop! The bartering system is beneficial to customers even though the prices are very high to start. I think that a barter system could be used for a sustainable business model. If the vendors set the prices high and then through barter get them to a point where they are still making a decent profit, it is beneficial. I think refusing to barter when it is culturally accepted hurts a business. When customers are offered the same products at different shops, the shops that barter will get my business.

  5. The equator was one of things I was looking forward to on the trip. While it wasn't quite what I expected I really enjoyed being able to shop and stand in both hemispheres. I definitely think that a positive aspect is being able to find things for cheaper prices and make your money go farther. However, on the other end of the spectrum this makes it harder for the business owners to make a sustainable living because they are having to have competitive prices. I definitely think it can hurt a business if they refuse to barter in a place where it is expected. Even if they begin with it over priced and work it down to where it is reasonable people, especially tourists, may feel like they got a good deal even if they really didn't. Therefore they will attract more customers and most likely have more success. However, like Micah I'm not really a fan of bartering and would prefer to stick to fixed prices.

  6. The equator was a good experience, although a more touristy than culture feeling. I think I expected it to be a little hotter than it was. lol. I agree with Sarah, I thought it was really cool that they showed the different flow of water on the hemispheres. I had known this because of toilets, but it was always harder previously to tell when I was in different countries. I liked that it showed you right there the different ways and that on the equator it flows straight.
    My main view on the pricing differences is that, I try to not barter down to much below what they try to price because to me its just a few cents or dollars, where to them this money is a lot more essential in their daily lives. This is what sustains them. I don't mind paying a little more for a souvenir in order for them to be able to live a little better.
    I agree with Mary that because they sell the same products, businesses can really be negativly effected and not be very sustainable if they do not barter the prices however. If people can easily just walk down a few feet and pay less, they will. If you price high, and barter down just a little less; both sides are happy. This is why in American you rarely see stores like Walmarts right next to similar stores like Target. This is how a lot of tourist type shops are in many countries, but it is interesting that a lot of shops all over seem to be very similar where similar products are sold very near each other.

  7. The visit to the equator is something that I will always remember. I mean how many people can say that they have straddled the world's equator? I also thought the "Did You Know?" circles were really cool! I think that you could not consider these shops at the equator as sustainable businesses. Although one side was more developed than the other side the fact that they had the same products did not seem very profitable. There is one thing to have similar products in a competitive market but this small strip in a tourist area is not very profitable. The only positive to selling the same products was for the consumer and that we could find the cheapest price. When it comes to bartering it again is beneficial for the consumers but many of the owners seemed desperate to sell and immediately started to drop the prices. I believe they should have more confidence in their products and rationale for their prices in order to make more of a profit and be more sustainable.

  8. Straddling the northern and the southern hemisphere is not something many people can say they have done. I was surprised that their weren't more tourists there then there were. While I was at shops, I thought it was fun to try and bargain down the price however now that I look back at it I wish I had not done that. To us bargaining down the price from 30,000 shillings to 25,000 shillings is pennies to us but could be the difference between eating dinner one night or not.
    I can see where this type of work environment wouldn't be sustainable, especially economically. If one business wanted to raise their price, they wouldn't be able to because the others would keep their prices at the original price and so the business that raised theres would loose business or even go out of business in the long term.
    I think that the businesses would be fine without bartering because their businesses are already dependent on tourism and tourists don't know what the typical prices are so bartering isnt necessary.

  9. The equator was by far one of the activities I enjoyed most on our trip. I think that the experience of being in both hemispheres at once is something that I will remember for a long time. This was my first real experience with bartering and I found it extremely stressful. The fact that different shops charge such varying prices for their items, truly was hard to wrap my mind around. Some of the shop owners were more willing to barter lower than others, which I found extremely interesting. It was very nice to have the MUBS students there with us to tell us if we were paying a good price for the item or not. I think that the businesses should continue to have varying prices because it creates a competition between them that can be shifted by bartering.
    I also believe that bartering can only happen effectively with a certain type of merchandise. The supermarkets obviously can't barter because they have to pay certain prices to the companies they buy their products from. Restaurants cannot barter because it would not be fair or effective to charge different prices on the same meal. I think that arts and crafts are where bartering is found because these items are made in homes, not factories or kitchens. The seller knows what they are willing to sell their product for based on the time that they have spent on it.