Above: Grand Bazaar, Istanbul - ADOBE STOCK

Last Word: How to Bargain in the Bazaar 

Grand bazaar in Istanbul - Adobe Stock

It’s no wonder that Americans are so averse to bargaining in Turkish bazaars (and souks in general). Having different prices for different people goes against our egalitarian instincts. Worse, travel guidebooks and glossies make it seem all but impossible to succeed at the task. To get the best price, they advise, one must haggle with ferocity as well as good humor. Act uninterested in the thing you’re interested in. Don’t shop if you’re with a guide — he or she will get a cut! Be relentless, but don’t forget, it’s a game. Oh, and it helps to bargain in Turkish (or Arabic, as the case may be). It’s just exhausting.

All this advice starts from the wrong premise. My goal is not to get the lowest price someone will offer. It’s rarely even possible for an American, and more important, it’s no fun. Fun should be the goal. You’re on vacation, after all! If you and a vendor can’t agree on a price, you can always just walk away. Bargain hard, by all means — enact shock at the quoted price, stage an argument with your spouse about the necessity of the purchase, disarm with flattery. Or don’t. Either way, remember that you’ll almost never get the price a local would, and that’s fine. We can all afford to pay $10 more for those embroidered pillowcases. If you find a memento you like at a price you like, that’s the real victory, especially if you’ve enjoyed yourself in the process of its acquisition. The Travel Office can arrange for a guide for any bazaar or souk you might like to visit.

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Above: Grand Bazaar, Istanbul - ADOBE STOCK

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