Bargaining is key when shopping at the Grand Bazaar
|This Grand Bazaar textile merchant offered us apple tea as he gave his asking prices in three different currencies with a discount for cash.|
Transactions with most of the 4,000 merchants in the more than six-century old Grand Bazaar in Istanbul are a matter of bargaining. Typically the merchant will open with a price and the customer will make a counter offer, usually about a third-less than he or she is willing to pay. Sometimes the merchant will act insulted and sometimes he really is insulted, such as the $10 I offered for five pretty silk bags I wanted to get for my girlfriends.
The merchandise is stunning especially when it comes to beautiful textiles and good quality knockoffs of $600 purses, $5,000 rugs, and $1,000 shoes. One wonders why the manufacturers of the real items aren’t cracking down on the merchants in Istanbul as they would if the same things were sold in New York or San Francisco. In one almost-transaction my daughter Sascha was examining a genuine Prada purse that would sell for $800 in New York and was being offered to her for $200. She was almost ready to capitulate when the merchant took the purse from her. She was certain that he was going to substitute a good knock-off for the real thing and walked away from the deal. Trusting your gut-level reaction is usually a good idea.
The merchants are quick with their calculators to tell you the price in the local Turkish lira, dollars or euros. Often the price can be reduced for those who pay cash.
A time honored tradition is an invitation to be seated and join the join the merchant for apple tea as the discussion continues.