If you travel to an Islamic country you will find them everywhere. They are both a part of people’s everyday routine and a important tourist attraction and destination! I am talking of course about the Shuks or Bazaars, the famous Eastern markets. These outdoor or indoor markets are full of life everyday, as the traders try to sell their merchandise and the tourists seek unique items, souvenirs from their journey. Although they used to be the main markets for locals, nowadays the Bazaars form the main attraction for tourists, who desire to experience some of the Eastern magic. The bargain of the prices is a lifetime experience, a favorite custom for the merchants and a practice that tourists simply love. However, what do you have to know before going for shopping? Check this practical survival guide to the Eastern markets, with instructions and tips, so that you will be pleased by your purchases, without spending a fortune.
1. The merchant will always win.
This is the first, basic principle you need to know. Before starting the bargains, be prepared for one thing, that the merchant will ALWAYS win from the transaction!!! In any case you simply can’t beat him!! Which is reasonable. He is a merchant, he wants money to make his living, if it was for him to loose money, he wouldn’t do that job! Therefore, even if he offers a significant discount in the initial price, bare in mind that at the end he will make a profit. Thus next time you make a purchase and smile out of satisfaction for your bargain capabilities, think who will smiles last.
2. Probably you won’t buy anything.
In an Eastern Bazaar, the traveler can find everything he or she wants. Whatever one wants and many more things that simply doesn’t need. Definitely a souvenir from a journey is necessary, in my opinion, but why would anyone buy it in a higher price? Thus the vast majority of the tourists go to the Bazaars, simply to have a look, to feel how an Eastern market looks, instead of buying something! It is a tourist attraction and the sellers know that very well! As a matter of fact, the locals go for shopping elsewhere.
3. Be careful what you buy.
In a Bazaar you will find things worth purchasing, but also you can find other stuff which are either imitations or items of lower quality. Pay great attention in clothes, handbags, jewels, electronics and perfumes. Before shopping anything, you should be aware of what you are buying. There is no way you can find a leather jacket that costs 500 Euros and still buy it for 30. That should make you think. On the other hand, if you know that you are buying an imitation, but it doesn’t concern you, then in a shuk you can find little treasures.
4. Buy only whatever you really want.
I won’t forget the very first time i visited a Bazaar. Images, shouting, sounds, smells, all were becoming one in my mind and my senses were alive. In my right, in my left, small or bigger shops were in a row or placed without rules, all filled with various stuff from spices and souvenirs to fancywork and clothes. Truly you don’t know what to choose firstly. However, before traveling in such a destination, you should better think of what you want to buy. Make a list of the stuff that you would like to bring back from your journey and don’t look right or left for things to buy! As i said you don’t need most of them! Only that way you won’t spent your money buying unnecessary purchases.
5. The starting price is by far higher than the true value.
So lets say you have found something you like. The price you are going to get from the trader, will be higher than the true price of the item. The products are overrated. Not only than the real value of the object but also the price is higher than the price you can get if you buy it in a shop outside the bazaar! This is actually reasonable, if you think the high rates of the rents, that the sellers pay in a Bazaar. It’s is also a tourist attraction, made for the tourists that seek some of the Eastern magic and this exact feeling costs more. It’s like you drink a coffee in downtown Paris, instead of drinking it in a neighborhood cafe. The billing is different.
6. Show them your determination.
As i said before, the merchants know very well that the majority of the tourists will visit the market only for the experience, just to see an other one attraction. That means, they know that probably your interest for an item is simply fake. Furthermore they know you don’t really seek to buy anything! Thus their luck of interest, either to sell it to you or to bargain the price, in order for you to feel the experience. However, if you want to purchase something, show them that you are determined to buy it, in the price you desire of course. Your determination is what will make them lower the prices.
7. Set the price that fits your desire.
Before buying something and since you have already searched for the product among the various shops of the Bazaar, set the price you are willing to pay, based on how much you value the item. You won’t take it neither for free nor for a price that the seller won’t gain at least a small profit. Having set a price, start by offering a lower one, so that you raise it, by bargaining, to the one you want. The merchant does the same. He has a high price for its merchandise and he then drops it, until the amount of money offers him profit through the sale.
8. Bargain the price.
You can’t find an Eastern market without bargaining. The merchants know it and the want it. Its like a part of their culture and mentality. They want the client to bargain the price and go along with their “game”, while trying to buy the product cheaper. Just a simple “It’s very expensive” on your behalf, is all they need in order for the game to start. And that’s how you have to see it, like a beautiful game where you are called to test your negotiating skills, against people who are far better in what they do. Therefore keep bargaining and hit the price.
9. Buy the product if you get the price you want.
At the beginning of the bargaining, the seller will offer you a price! Naturally you will gently refuse and then he will offer you a better one. You can decline again and then he will probably ask you to suggest a price. You will counteroffer a lower one. He will refuse of course and that’s how the bargain will go on. In that point you can act like you are leaving and if your interest for acquiring the item is intense, be sure that the seller will call you, offering a better price. Otherwise you just leave, since he is not willing in selling it. This might happen lots of times. Don’t show any emotions of anger or frustration. However if the merchant calls you back, offering you the price you asked, then it is polite to buy the product. It’s very offending to deny buying the item or try to lower the price even more, by the moment the seller has agreed in the amount you have chosen.
Now you know what what to do when you visit an Eastern Bazaar. Don’t be afraid of the bargains and don’t hesitate to get lost in the alleys that are full of stores. Enjoy your vacations, get to know the foreign culture and feel the magic of the East, that the Souqs offer. If you find something you like then bargain for its price! Now you know how!!!