I used to work in a souvenir shop on Damrak (the street just off central station) so let me share you a bit on one of the tricks those guys have.
In many of these shops there is a display full of ships in bottles (impossible bottles); with many of them made from crystal that cost more than 150 Euro's. Now, out of the 12 or so different type of ships there will be one with a big sign "Sale this month" or "Clearance" with the price of around 20 Euro's.
In the two months that I lasted there (they weren't that nice to me so this is why I'm sharing their secret) on average we would sell about 4 of those 'clearance' ships.
Now, is that one ship among the beautiful other 12 really a clearance item? Nope, truth is that particular one is a cheap glass one made from China, and we've got loads of them in the storage upstairs.
It's a smart trick really, putting one cheap version in a middle of the real thing gives people the illusion that all of them are of same quality. So next time if you see a deal like this, make sure you ask them to pull it out from the display, along with another one that is not marked 'clearance' read the labels on the bottom of the platforms to compare the two.
Some tourists shops don't have the prices displayed on their merchandise. Don't buy from here. They just might over charge you.
Also: The "Pashmina" scarves are everywhere but the best place to get them is in the Market, where they run 3 euro each or 3 for 5euro.
Fun Alternatives: Souvenirs are great, but don't spend too much money on the 'normal' stuff, how about fantastic earings or a fancy Indian style shirt. Isn't it more fun to say, "Thanks, I got it in Amsterdam" and then you might get to talk about your trip.
Be careful of purchasing items in stores in the town center. They can be Asian knock-offs and not the real thing.
Fun Alternatives: Instead of buying Delft China from a store in town, try taking a bus tour to visit the factory where it is really made.
Stores like this one are all over the place. For my tastes, stuff like this is cute to look at, but I'd rather bring home something more original for myself and my loved ones.
Unique Suggestions: Take a picture of the multi-colored clogs!
Fun Alternatives: I prefer to buy gifts in the gift shops of the museums I visit. Mainly though I like to find cute, original and one-of-a-kind stores that sell items that aren't massed produced.
Tourist shops.... same trap as everywhere else in the world. But fun :)
Unique Suggestions: Take a picture with the giant wooden shoe and feel like a real tourist!
Fun Alternatives: I never bought souvenirs in Amsterdam so I can't tell you where there are the nicest. The nicest postcards, however, I found at the canal boat shop opposite the Rijksmuseum!
Avoid the 'souvenir shops' on the Damrak - I also bought a couple of postcards and stamps and was fleeced of nearly 4 Euros.
It seems if you are a tourist, the shopkeepers think you are fair game for being taken for a ride.