In most Mediterranean countries bargaining for goods in markets is a common and even encouraged activity. It ensures you to have the best possible deal for at least one of the sides, but in the best case for both – you and the seller.
When you see a price tag on something, always know that it’s just a number that you are supposed to argue about with a shopkeeper to have you both satisfied at the end of the process.
Many of these countries have very good quality stuff that you can get for a relatively lower price than anywhere else in the world. For example in Turkey, Morocco and other similar countries you can get great quality leather goods.
Fez, a city in Morocco has its famous leather coloring place in the middle of the souk (that’s what their markets are called) so it’s perfect to buy high-quality leather there.
Moroccan leather is famous in the world by its high quality and an unbelievable variety of texture and beautiful colors. The main reason for that is the way how they make leather – stumping in natural colors by hands and feet.
Click here to find awesome ideas of Moroccan souvenirs to buy at the markets and practice your bargaining skills.
PRO TIP: make sure to keep an eye on your belongings while being exploring busy markets. Check out these anti-theft travel bags and accessories, to be extra safe.
You can buy handmade carpets, traditional souvenirs, spices, nice jewelry and even brand sunglasses, wallets, bags, shoes. Of course, they are all fake, but mostly good in quality and looks.
But to make a steal-purchase you have to be willing to bargain. It’s not an easy task for a first-timer because you will usually be dealing with professional salespeople who will have hundreds of tricks up their sleeve to make a sale and get a possibly higher amount out of tourists.
In order not to get scammed and pay a proper price for a good in a market you must master the art of bargaining.
Here are 12 tips on how to bargain like a pro and make a steal-of-purchase!
1. Find out is it common to bargain for goods in the country you’re in. If so, go for it big time!
2. Don’t be shy and try it!
Once I was in Turkey, Alanya. It was the last night before leaving and I still had some Turkish coins left. I wanted to spend them to buy a coke in the nearby shop. Sadly the pricing showed a bigger amount than I had.
So I got my courage up to ask the seller if it would be ok if I give him all the coins I have and get the coke. I was about 30% short of the price. As a surprise to me, he didn’t even blink and said “Yes!”. So no place is wrong to bargain in a country like that and no price is too low to at least try to bargain. Always be confident. Don’t think that bargaining is for cheapskates. Business is always based on deals and those who are good at bargaining get the best deals and wins.
3. If possible find out from locals how much do they usually pay for a product you are interested in. That way it will be easier for you to understand if you are getting a proper price from the seller.
4. Determine a price in your head that you are willing to pay and offer lower at first so you have room to go up a bit while bargaining.
5. Show a light interest in a product but say that the price is too high. That way the seller will immediately offer you a special price “just for you”. But keep in mind that that’s also not the best price you can get.
6. Once you name the price you are willing to pay for the product, don’t worry is the seller acts offended or angry. That’s just a game they play to make you feel sorry for them and have you agree to a higher price.
7. Don’t worry about hurting sellers’ feelings or making him lose money from the deal. They are an experienced businessman and see each bargain as a challenge or a game. If he’d lose money on the sale, he’d never be willing to sell you the product.
8. Don’t show your enthusiasm – as soon as the seller will see your “I got to have this” attitude, he will not give you the best price anymore.
9. Show Hesitation – Never let a seller know that what they have is absolutely perfect for you. Act hesitant and be sure to point out any wear, scratches, or flaws on whatever you are looking at.
10. Use silence – look at the product or start to think silently during the bargain. Seller will try to fill the awkward silence and will offer you a better price.
11. Have a friend with you that will play being bored and trying to drag you out of the shop. That will make you seal the deal faster as the seller will be willing to drop the price quicker not to lose you.
12. Walk away if the prices aren’t right. Seller will not want to miss a sale so he most probably will run out of the store and at that moment will throw at you the best possible price.
I have used these tricks myself and am proud of several pretty great purchases.
My very proudest moment was when I was trying to buy a fancy leather bag in Antalya, Turkey. I walked into a shop looking at bags and wallets. The seller approached me in just a few moments. He was the owner of the shop so he’d give me the best deal. Just for me!
As soon as I had found what I want he took me to the lounge area of the shop to sit down and talk about prices. They had a sofa there to sit and bargain. The shop owner’s wife even brought us cups of Turkish apple tea for the process. It wasn’t even a fancy shop or anything. It’s just how things are handled there.
At that moment I decided to leave aside my European shyness and use all the tricks I described in this post. We had quite a long and heated discussion that ended up in me buying two great bags for a perfect price that I actually had decided on in my head at the beginning.
It was 80% off the starting “best price for me”.
The seller seemed pretty mad at the end of having to give me such price but I’m sure he appreciated the good bargain. I didn’t end up getting the wallet that also wanted though. Seller just told me “That’s the lowest I can go for the bags already and will not sell you the wallet”.
That’s extremely rare!
So I knew if in such a situation the seller refuses to sell one of 3 discussed items, that would mean I really got the best possible deal. I will never forget the adrenaline and courageous feeling that I had that moment and how good it felt to succeed in such a situation. Pretty much like hitting a jackpot in Vegas.
Some good tips here. I always found bartering a bit difficult. Especially in Central America but the more I saw it, the more I found the locals expected us to barter.
I say go ahead and try everyone loves a bargain. A dollar saved is a dollar spent in the next destination. Enjoyed the read and your perspective on it
This is a shopping heaven. And I love your bargain tips. We need to be very daring in order to win the game.
Haggling is definitly an art. They have so many good things at the markets that it is necessary.
I’m traveling to Istanbul in 2 months. I’m going to visit the Grand Market for sure. I really want to try some bargaining but I’m just a bit worried that I might be too shy for that. 😀
These are great tips Travel Leaf. 🙂
From my point of view Mediterranean market shops sell the same things so if your a bit of a dell boy haggle away start at 20% of their asking price and walk out at your final offer of 50%. 99 times out of a hundred you’ll get it . 50% of the price is my biggest benefit. 😀
I am a huge fan of Moroccan textile and handcrafts.
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