Wholesale market shopping is a little more involved than just pulling up to your local grocery store and bringing your reusable bags. You need to be astute, discerning and able to think on your feet. Also, pack a knife (for tasting fruit).
- BRING CASH. The market is cash-only and there are no reliable ATMs in the vicinity of the markets. Bring cash before you go.
- ARRIVE EARLY. Markets close at 10am but the best stuff is found by 7-8am or earlier. Also parking is easier earlier in the morning and some vendors do close up shop earlier.
- Even if you don't know what you're doing it is critically important that you LOOK LIKE YOU KNOW WHAT YOU'RE DOING. Dress inconspicuous, preferred shopping clothing is jeans and a flannel shirt. You do not want to look like a n00b because security could kick you out, and vendors are likely to quote n00bs higher prices.
- Follow directions from any security guys, especially in regards to parking and driving. DO NOT PISS SECURITY OFF. They will not hesitate more than a split second to boot your ass out.
- SHOP AROUND. Vendors will have a wide variety of produce, but many vendors will have the exact same stuff and quote different prices. Walk the market first and get quotes on the stuff you want and get a sense of who is offering the best prices
- ALWAYS TASTE BEFORE BUYING. Venors are almost always willing to let you taste their fruit before you buy it. This is a wise move because you never know how good fruit is going to be until you try it. This is also why we recommend carrying a pocket knife, so you can easily open stuff like mangos, pineapple, etc.
- RIPER IS CHEAPER. Vendors will generally sell riper fruit for less money. It's about to go bad and they are trying to get some money for it before it becomes completely unsellable. Additonally, vendors must pay a trash service to come and collect rotten fruit. So they are incentivized to give overripe or downright spoiled fruit away to customers instead of throwing it away. Be aware of what is offered for free or very little money.
- NEGOTIATE, NEGOTIATE, NEGOTIATE. Especially with ripe fruit. Do not be afraid to make lowball offers to these guys, especially if they seem desperate to move inventory. Spots on the bananas or the mangos look a little bit wrinkly? Ask for that specific case for cheaper. Remember, you are doing them a favor by helping them recoup cash for inventory that might otherwise just spoil.
- MAKE FRIENDS WITH THE VENDORS. Wear the same clothes each week so that the guys recognize you. Relationships with these vendors can yield great deals in the future.