Monday, 8 November 2010

Marrakech Part Four: The Art of Haggling

So, as a final segment, how could I possibly overlook the main attraction and simultaneously a dramatic downfall to the beautiful city of Marrakech? This of course being that if you want to take away any souvenir or memento from your trip, you’ve gotta be prepared to haggle.
Some fancy bags
hanging in the

I’ll start by informing you all that I must admit, I hate the whole bloody charade. The majority of my comrades with which I was travelling just couldn’t get enough of the whole excitement of it all. I couldn’t help but think ‘Can’t I just buy the damn thing at a reasonable price and be done with it?!’

My hatred for this silly act probably boils down to the fact that I’m just so rubbish at it. If I see something I want to buy, I’m the kind of person utterly consumed with this object. I must have it, I cannot possibly leave this country without purchasing this item, and if I don’t, I will sit on the plane and daydream about how I left this item behind, abandoned but its one true owner. I am so transparent in feeling this way that the shopkeepers believe they hit the jackpot in the customer lottery, and without assistance, I pay far too much in the end.

The real secret to the haggle, which several of my companions were exceptionally good, at is to pretend like you don’t really want it (which in itself to me seems utterly ridiculous). But my goodness does it work like a charm. As soon as they see the little glint of disinterest in your eye, the shopkeepers instantly consider lowering their price at the thought of losing one dirham of business.

Some beautiful fabrics
stacked up the ceiling
It’s all about a competition of wills. The customers and shopkeeper battle it out to test who is the strongest. Who wants this more, the customer or the seller? And who is more willing to sacrifice their pride? It must either be the customer paying far more than the shopkeeper knows he is will to reduce is price to, or the shopkeeper making one final attempt and producing an absolute bargain price for a very happy customer. I know which one I’d prefer anyway.

But as well as it being a test between customer and proprietor, the tradesmen have so much competition between themselves also. If you look interested in a scarf, the likelihood is that you will then be approached by a number of different sellers trying to lure you into their shop. In this case I’d say stick to your guns and one seller, the others will probably be too consumed in finding their next potential customer to care. You have plenty of time to browse them all and a lot of the products around the markets are much the same anyway.

If you know you’re not a fan of arguing (on a mostly friendly basis you must understand) with strangers over the price of things, than I suggest you go to Marrakech with someone who does, otherwise you’ll end up being seriously out of pocket. As long as you take the whole thing pretty light-heartedly, and don’t name a price too low in case of offended the shopkeepers, then it can be a fun experience, and something you just have to try at last once whilst you’re there. I myself will always have Jenna or Helen by my side!

A view of the infamous square by night

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