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Morocco Markets Haggling Guide and Tips

Jun 11

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6/11/2010 11:20 AM  RssIcon

 “Morocco Haggling Guide” by a Moroccan shoe salesman

I sold shoes for a living during my summer vacation in Morocco, when trying to get my high school diploma (also known as Baccalaureate). The store where I worked is located in the economic capital city of Morocco, Casablanca, in the heart of the in Derb Omar district.  Shops in this district are open 6 days a week, Monday-Saturday, and buyers come from all over Morocco, and from various parts of Africa to shop in the “Souks” (markets).  The Derb Omar is known for its wholesale souks, which sell everything from clothing and shoes, to tea, beans, coffee and Beldi soap.
During this time, I managed to both get my high school diploma and sell plenty of shoes!  It was here I began to fully understand the true art of haggling in Morocco.  Here, I will try to cover “Morocco Haggling 101” for tourists and visitors travelling to Morocco not familiar with the process and the concept.  For non American readers not familiar with American college courses labeling, 101 is usually a freshman course offered during first year in college, and it is an introductory course to a specific subject.  
According to an online dictionary to haggle is “to bargain in a petty, quibbling, and often contentious manner”, and while visiting Morocco this is a skill you will need to develop, if you don’t want to over pay for your purchases.
Every single tourist visiting Moroccan souks will be tempted to buy something amongst the vast array of items for sale. Most of time, you will end up getting the item you want, but for which price??  So, I will try to share my experience as shoes salesman to make sure you pay the fare price.  

Morocco Haggling tips:

1.   Say hello and initiate a small conversation before asking about prices, dropping a few words using Moroccan Arabic will get you a cheaper price. 
2. Smile and ask for price.  If you aren’t aware of the average price of the item, use your knowledge learned here to guide you as you move on to the next store. You can always claim you don’t have enough cash, and you will be back tomorrow.
3. If you know which item you want to purchase before heading to the market, Google it before hand and check E-bay for average market prices.  
4. Avoid wearing your Rolex while trying to get a good price for a carpet for you living room!
5. Moroccan’s love to chat, and you will surprised at how many languages are spoken by shop owners, tour guides and the average Ahmed…Expect questions like, “where are you from?” , “where are you staying?”. 
6. If you are American or British, it may not be wise to answer that question honestly. Americans are known all over world for their wealth, and Marrakesh sales guys know that as well!  You may want to be a South African for a day, or perhaps you can fake being an exchange student teaching English in Fez.
7. Consider every item at discount of 60 to 70%.
8. Never pay more than 50 per of original price.
9. Don’t go shopping if you are in a rush, haggling takes time, just remember to smile often.
10. Expect sentences like, "thats a wholesale price", "I am selling at loss", "I am not the shop owner, my boss will fire me", "I am not selling to you", "come back later", they are all part of doing business.
11. Don't feel pressured to make a purchase just because you browsed through store and look at the merchandise.
Enjoy rest of your Moroccan trip.  You may even find yourself haggling in Wal-MART or with your Starbucks barista once you are back! 
Moroccan market

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