6. Sometimes stall holders have bad days and may have had abuse from tourists so try to be forgiving to the guy who gets grumpy with you or even becomes a little rude and impatient. Take it with good humour and try to diffuse the tension with a smile. I find that over the course of a days serious shopping there will usually be one or two stall holders who are clearly rude. In this situation I usually appeal to fellow stallholders who are usually quick to chastise the childish seller.
7. Look at an item, decide if you cannot live without it and if you cant then decide on what price it is worth to you. Set your price and don’t go over it. There may be some items that are made by skilled crafts people and it has taken many hours to create. I am not suggesting that you should try to ’buy on the cheap’, every craftsman deserves a living wage, but the important thing is not buy something unless you will be pleased to own it at the price you pay.
8. You need to know that the price that is quoted is always the price for just one item. If you buy 2 or more then the price will drop significantly. I generally establish the price of a single article and then if I want 10 I may ask the price of 2 then 5, when I have established that I would generally expect to have a further significant reduction for 10.
9. The first encounter of the day is viewed as ‘auspicious’ and so early shopping can bring some great deals as the seller wants to get off to a good start by having a successful initial sale and have a ‘lucky day’ for the remainder of the day.
10. Similarly the last sale of the day can be a good deal especially if the seller has not done too well and wants to end on a positive note (or more seriously, needs some more money for dinner.) The end of the day can equally be a bad time to buy as the seller may be tired and just wants to go home.
11. If you are a serious shopper and want to establish the true price of an item, say for example, a silk tassle. For an item where I am unsure of the price I would generally ask at a few stalls explaining that I am not buying but just want an idea of the price for now. This will generally result in a high price for the item. Then I would have a brief negotiation with my price in mind. I will go to walk away if the price is too high. If I am called back then I know that there is still room for manoeuvre. If I walk away and am not called back then I know that my price was too low and I have established the ‘proper’price for the item.
12. If you buy from the stalls on the main tourist street and around the place jma el fna you should generally (not always) expect to pay about 20-30% higher than further away. If you venture into the old foundouks and side derbs or the side alleys off side derbs (where English and even French may not be spoken) and talk to the ‘fabricants’ themselves then you may well save 50-80%. You have to be aware though that if someone is brought in to translate for you that they are likely to be getting a hefty introduction fee hidden in your price so try to do it without a translator if you can after all they say money talks! Although I speak pretty good French in this situation i would have notes at the ready and illustrate the item I want and the money I would pay and mime an exchange. Most of my most satisfying encounters and deals have been made in this way and both parties in the negotiation are invariably delighted!
13. Try to brush up on your french. This will result in better prices and easier negotiations as most stall holders speak french rather than english. Ideally learn a few arabic phrases-if you greet the stall holder in arabic ‘Salam Aleikum!’ (Hello). I can almost guarantee that your price will be 20 % lower than if you begin by saying ‘Hello, how much is that?’
Many readers will be practiced and skilled at haggling and so will find the next section at best tedious and at worst irritatingly patronizing! However, for those who have never ‘haggled’ before let me now give a blow by blow description of how a typical haggle works:
1. The haggle begins even before you start to talk to the stall holder. Make sure you wander around several stalls that sell the item you want before you even consider beginning a serious negotiation. Ask to hold an item explaining clearly that you do not want to buy today but you are ‘just looking’. Inspect the quality of workmanship of the item. There are usually several similar looking items that are actually very different in terms of quality-thickness of metal, number of threads per inch of fabric, handmade vs machine made etc. It is up to you to check out these features as you may not be given a 100% accurate description by the seller.