Marrakech was unlike any other city you can imagine. The extremes and chaos can leave you feeling a bit dizzy, but the beauty - it captures you. It's just one of those cities that exudes the perfect balance of mystery and beauty; securing its rightful place on every traveler or photographer's bucket list. The souks are particularly famous, because let’s face it - you can find just about anything there.
But before I jump into all my tips for how to get the best bargains in the souks, let’s first talk about what I wore. It was important that I be comfortable but also respect the local culture (especially during Ramadan). Imagine spending hours walking around the souks - bargaining and sweating in the heat of the sun. Wouldn’t you want to keep things light and comfortable? But how do I do that in 90 degree heat and still be chic?? For me, cozy sneakers would be the only way. So when Nike approached me about a partnership with their new React Element 55 sneakers, I jumped at the opportunity. They’re comfortable, stylish and I knew they would be perfect for long days exploring throughout the medina. They come in a few different colorways, but I went with a simple frosted mint color which I think is the perfect color for summer. To keep things chic and effortless, I styled them with a bold red linen dress that worked perfectly for the market surroundings and kept me feeling cool.
With a good outfit sorted, the next thing you need to remember is that haggling is key in the medina. You have to be prepared to bargain like no other and be prepared to even walk away from the item you love just to be able to secure the right price. I personally haggled in french and managed to buy 3 basket bags for 80dh each, (originally quoted at 300dh), a raffia straw hat for 80dh (originally quoted at 200dh) and unique mirror for 150dh (originally quoted at 450dh), and a 4 set of ceramics for 500dh (originally quoted at 1300dh). And that doesn’t even include the Berber rug I scored for my living room.
To help you on your own journey, here are some of my tips and tricks to help you to secure a proper bargain!
If you know a local, take them to the market with you. No matter how great your negotiation skills are, a local will always be able to get a better price than you can.
If you have the time, have a scouting day where your only goal is to walk around and see what’s available in the markets. Get multiple quotes for items you’re interested in because a lot of times you’ll find the exact same (or at least very similar) items across several stalls. This is the trick to having a ballpark idea of what asking prices are before the haggling starts. Just be sure to take the business cards of the vendors you intend to later buy from so you can call them to help you remember how to get back to their stalls.
Whatever price they first give you - cut it in half. This is the best benchmark for the ‘right’ price to pay. Of course there is always an exception to every rule, and there will be stalls and especially boutiques/shops that won’t budge on their prices.
Don’t seem too interested or talk too much. Instead, always let the vendor start the haggling process. Chances are, before you even open your mouth the price will drop from their original starting point. Whether it’s ‘i can do you a good deal’ or just a straight reduction in their quoted price, the more silent you stay the more they just haggle with themselves to bring down the price. They may at some point ask you what you want to pay, always go in much lower than you want to net out at, as inevitably you’ll meet somewhere in the middle. It’s also important to note that you should know what your final price is before you start haggling.
Don’t be afraid to walk away if a vendor doesn’t agree to your given price. This is typically when the seller will give you their real final price.
Don’t feel obligated to purchase from aggressive/persistent vendors, but also understand that they are simply trying to make a living. If you’re not interested, either ignore them or say no firmly (yet politely) then walk away.
So what’s been your experience when haggling in the markets? Are you aggressive in getting that bargain or more timid and overwhelmed by the whole process? I’m somewhere in between, but never back down from a good challenge to get that special item I want for the best price.