A bazaar type argument

Shopping in Morocco …. how can I describe it properly.  It’s like a dance.  It’s not an argument although voices are often raised and even tears can come into play.  It’s like a duel and when both players are experienced at their craft it can be a delight to observe.

P_20180602_121719

However, when you are one of the players (and especially not a very experienced one) it can be intimidating.  But I had done the research and realised that it was a must.  Not only to get a reasonable deal (because really people, the shopkeeper will always win in this haggling process when dealing with me) – but also to preserve the proper decorum and relationship between the seller and the buyer.

So here’s the thing.  You find the shop and you know what you want.  There are very seldom any prices on the products.  You are encouraged to pick up and try and feel the product.  Sniff it.  Try it on.  Whatever.  But don’t ask the price.  No, no, no.  That is not part of this stage of the dance.

shoes in souk

First you have to see the quality of the workmanship.  You have to admire the fabric, the leather, the stitching.  You have to agree with the seller that this is of the highest quality.  In fact so good you have never seen anything like it before.  Don’t worry.  This process will not necessarily mean that you will be paying more than anyone else.  It is a compliment paid to the shopkeeper to show him – before you haggle – that you truly appreciate the fine goods in his shop.

Finally, after having tried it on, exclaimed with joy, taken it off, tried it on again – you ask the question.  How much?

Stage 2 – this is when the price becomes the total focus of your discussion.  We have now left behind the quality of the product.  He tells you how he is making nothing on this.  He is just selling this as a favour to help out the dressmaker/shoemaker/potterymaker.  You say that is too much.  You don’t have that much money on you.  Well then how much do you have?  Then you take 50% off what he asked and say that you will pay him that much.  He looks at you in shock.  His eyes are round and staring.  “Look, look at this beautiful shoe/dress/plate.  I cannot sell it to you for this.  I am giving this away.  No I cannot do that”.

We then start the back and forth – he asks for this – you offer that – he lowers what he is asking – you lower your offering.  Oh my goodness.  I hate this part.  But I have to respect the rules.

rug seller

Eventually you make an offer – he holds out his hand to shake on it.  You take it and you know that you have paid too much.  You just KNOW it.  By the delight in his eyes, by the hand clasped to his heart.  BUT … what the hell.  It is beautiful, it is from Morocco.  It is exotic and it is yours.  Pack it up – take it home – never think again about how much you paid for it.

JUST ENJOY IT.

6 responses to “A bazaar type argument

  1. We know how it feels, bought carpets in Fes.
    What an experience, turkey was the same. My wife did it all, I just stood back and got the cash ready for the ending😉

  2. Joyce Ducharme

    I am travelling to Morocco in Sept. on a day trip..I do not plan to buy a carpet (you know how that plan works out lol) How do you get it home..unless you buy in a high end shop and they will supposedly ship it for you…Whats the process you have used to fly home with it?

    • Hi Joyce, I wouldn’t recommend buying a carpet from just any stall in the market because there are so many fakes. Get them home and the dye runs etc. The approved carpet shops will ship home for you or if it is small enough you can bring it home as hand luggage. Enjoy Morocco!

  3. When we were in Morocco my husband bartered with a Berber for a scarf for me. My husband said, “If I pay this much, we won’t have money left to eat supper tonight!” to which the Berber said, “You can come eat at my home!” We didn’t take him up on it but we did get the scarf at a lower price. What fun!

    • Hahah – I love this about Morocco. When my husband bargained for a pair of shoes for me the shopkeeper looked at my husband and said “Sir – are you a berber because you haggle just like one.” Of course it was all nonsense because we ALWAYS paid more than we should have so the last laugh was on us. But it was fun.

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