The Grand Bazaar is Turkey's commercial hub for both locals and international traders and if your planning a visit to the Grand Bazaar in Istanbul, the following tips could be helpful:
1. Always remember that at least 20% to 30% of the official price has been inflated to allow for a ‘bargaining margin’.
2. Shopping in the Grand Bazaar will involve many aspects of what is know as; ‘Ottoman etiquette’ - You will exchange polite greetings with traders, drink Turkish tea and try to determine if the shopkeeper is trustworthy & honest. Remember, he will also drink tea, exchange polite greetings and try to determine how gullible you are.
3. Do not allow a trader to pressure you into buying something. If you accept an invite for tea or coffee, these are free of charge and you do not need to buy anything in exchange.
4. Always compare quality and pricing - shopkeepers here are very good at talking customers into purchases items against their better judgment.
5. Before you begin to ‘haggle’ for an item, decide how much you like the item and how much you are prepared to pay for it. Next….
6. Make your first offer around 60% of the initial asking price. The shopkeeper will most probably look offended, but this all part of the ‘haggling’ ritual. Next…
7. The shopkeepers counter offer will be approx. 80-90%. You should look disappointed and explain that the most you wanted to pay/can afford to pay is around 70%. – And make your final offer.
Dealing with ‘Pushy’ market sellers:
Throughout the Grand Bazaar shopkeepers will try to grab your attention and bombard you with items for sale. This can be intimidating at first, but if you try to enjoy the experience and approach it with a sense of humor, you’ll be fine.
Always remember: Do not feel obligated to look at or buy anything you don't want. The shopkeepers at the Grand Bazaar are good salesmen and good talkers. They will always take the opportunity to sell to a foreigner because they know foreigners will respond to those who offer a friendly greeting.
For example; you will often hear attention grabbing openers like;
"Hello my friend Where are you from?"
"Can I help you find something?"
"I like your shoes, did you buy them in Turkey?"
"Would you like a cup of Turkish tea?"
Simply say "No, thanks!" if you are not interested and walk past them. This is quite cold and rude behavior for most for most of us, but it’s the only way to walk around the market without getting constantly stopped and drawn into a conversation.
Alternatively if your looking to chat with shopkeepers, you will find most are very friendly and talkative — but be warned that a long and lengthy conversation may give them false hopes of a sale.
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