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Middle East & North Africa (MENA)

Getting a Good Deal : The Art & Etiquette of Bazaar Shopping


Negotiating in the bazaar is all in good fun. It can be a great experience and of course getting a great deal on a quality item is always a great feeling. It adds to your experience in your time abroad and don’t be surprised if they invite you for tea after.
Getting a Good Deal : The Art & Etiquette of Bazaar Shopping

by Christen Behzadi

10 months ago


Anytime we are in Iran I know the deal when we go to the bazaar. As an American woman no matter how much I know the culture I still look foreign. Which is beneficial in many ways. It allows me to really impress everyone with a big cultural splash since they expect me to know nothing.However, in the bazaar this is a disadvantage.

If you look foreign in the Bazaar you are automatically going to get the foreign price, not the local price. That price could be 10 times or more what the locals pay.

The bottom line is to go with a local if you want absolute best price. However, this doesn’t mean you can’t get a really great deal. Here are some tips on haggling your way through the local bazaar.

Foreign Price & Local Price: The price of the item is already higher for you if you don’t look like a local. If you look like a foreigner it is assumed that you have money to spend. Their perspective is to get the maximum amount from you. This is why your price is significantly higher than the local price. Know from the beginning you have to get the price down.

Don’t Buy at the First Shop: Everything is dazzling and new and interesting and you want to buy! Try to wait until you have a look around and maybe casually ask prices. Most of the shops will carry similar items and you may be able to get a better deal at another shop.

You Must Negotiate: Even though locals get great prices from the beginning they will never accept it! They continue to negotiate. It is a way of life, fun and completely expected that there are negotiations in the bazaar. This is one reason why Middle Eastern people are so skilled at negotiations in the board room and beyond-because they negotiate everything in their daily lives when interacting with merchants. Don’t accept the first price!

Tourist Areas: Another thing to remember is that any area frequented by tourists means even higher prices. If the negotiation is tough at first just remember a lot of tourists don’t negotiate at all. Once they see you in the spirit of negotiation they will oblige and work with you.

Offer Low: Start low then work with the merchant. At least you set the tone that you want a good deal. The true price and local price might be quite low. Unlike tourist areas in the U.S. locals actually shop in many Middle Eastern bazaars on a daily basis. Even though $50 for a tea set sounds like an amazing deal to you the locals may get that set for $15 or less.

Be Ready to Walk Away: Don’t get too attached. Be ready to walk from the negotiation. Sometimes when you walk away they will come after you to renegotiate.

Have Fun!: Negotiating in the bazaar is all in good fun. It can be a great experience and of course getting a great deal on a quality item is always a great feeling. It adds to your experience in your time abroad and don’t be surprised if they invite you for tea after.

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