The Grand Bazaar, Istanbul, is one of the world’s oldest and largest shopping precincts. It sprawls over 60-something streets and covers a huge area and at the low end hosts in excess of a quarter of a million people daily. We must have gone on one of the low days because we managed to get about with reasonable ease without being jostled and harassed by the crowds. The noise was something else and we were there on a quiet day.
Turkish retailers hold a different view to competition than their western counterparts. Unlike most European centres where one walks for miles looking for a particular item and going from one side of town to the other if you are unable to find just the right thing, the Turks have this wonderful idea that shops selling similar goods should be side by side. The onus is then on the salesmen to lure you into their shop. It has its advantages but the big disadvantage is that there is too much choice in one place.
The salesmen earn their wages by fulfilling a daily quota thereafter all sales are based on a commission. It means that there is no ‘best time’ for the best prices. Bargaining is expected but the shopper (there were only westerners shopping) is at a disadvantage as there is nothing with which to compare prices unless one is willing to spend time haggling with every store keeper in the row. It was a quiet day at the bazaar when we visited, even so the shouting out to each other and the salesmen vying to catch your attention was very noisy.
The MOTH (Man of The House) showed a lot more courage than yours truly. He was on a quest to find a leather wallet and belt which he did and was pleased with the prices he paid. I think the secret is to be happy with your price and then stop comparing other stores goods and prices. It takes the pleasure away from your experience. The Turks are very smooth operators and have the patter perfected. The MOTH remained impervious to the flattery. Me? Not so much. I was still empty-handed when it was time to move on and I was not happy about that. Eventually I settled on a set of Turkish teaspoons, which are smaller than our western teaspoons. Travelling with backpacks only was a constant reminder to consider every purchase carefully because we would be carrying the extra weight.
Posted as part of the A – Z Blogging Challenge, April 2015