Alas, you’ve made it to the magical souks of Marrakech and wish to shop til you drop, but then realize their system of shopping is not the same as that of the Western world. So what is the process? How to price things out? How to get the best deal? And how do I know I’m getting cheated?
This blog post will teach you everything you need to know on how to safeguard yourself against the cheats and fuccbois of Morocco that will try to sell you fake gold, cardboard shoes, carpets made in China, and more…
The Moroccan Shopping Process: How To Negotiate and What To Expect
First, you’ll see something you love and ask the merchant, “how much?” Don’t expect people to give you the price until you’ve picked out everything you want. Their response will almost always be, “Don’t worry about price, I’ll give you democratic price. Just keep picking more things out.”At this point he may or may not offer you some mint tea.
My take on the tea: Take that shit if you’re thirsty and tell him to put some sugar in it while you’re at it. Tastes better. YOU ARE NOT OBLIGATED TO BUY ANYTHING IF YOU DRINK THIS TEA. It’s supposed to be a form of hospitality, but it’s turned into more of a trap. But look, you are here to trap deez hoes, not them to trap you. Drink that tea, girl. And take it as the hospitality it’s supposed to be. Don’t feel obligated even if they give you stank looks when you walk out of the store with nothing. They asked you for the tea, not the other way around so….. And, do they pay your bills? Then nah, you’re good.
Start your negotiation now. Say you can’t decide if you want more things if you don’t know the price. And that maybe if he tells you the price, you’ll buy more. The more things you buy, the lower the price you can demand. He will most definitely give you an overall price for all of your things, but it’s better to have them price things out individually and bargain over each thing instead of argue over the lump sum price.
Whenever he tells you the price, cut that shit in half if not more. Decide right away what you’re willing to pay for this item and stick to it. Don’t even compromise. If he’s not willing to meet you, just walk away no matter how bad you feel. Just walk away. He will come running after you offering the price you wanted. They are used to this, so if someone won’t come back on your offer, you should just leave immediately because they are trying to cheat you.
What Shops To Avoid in Morocco
If you walk into a place and someone starts to explain to you the process of how things are made without you even looking around, even though it may seem nice at first, it’s basically a tape-recorded speech. Expect outrageous prices because this is a company not a shop owner. You will get better prices with a shop owner so fuck all dat shit. Better to bargain with an individual. And if the merchant tries to flirt with you like, “Oh, you’re so beautiful, you remind me of my daughter.” He is definitely lying to you and he uses this line on everyone. He’s not a nice guy. So take what you want from him.
How to Price Out Specific Items in Morocco
Arab Silk: The Arab silk carpets are the more renowned carpets that you would think of in stories like Aladdin or Ali Baba. These carpets are based off of symmetry and geometric designs. Silk is usually more expensive and softer than other material out there. There are two different types of silk: cactus and caterpillar. The caterpillar silk can be tested by burning the material and it immediately shriveling in your hand. The cactus silk will not burn. You can also test to see if this is a silk not polyester carpet by checking to see from one side the carpet shimmers and when you walk around to the other side it changes dull. Also the carpet should be woven from top to bottom, the fringe should not be sewn on. The pricing depends on the size, quality, hand-made or machine-made, and if shipping is included. For a 5’ x 7’ carpet shipping included, we got it for $650 and 8’ x 10’ shipping included for $850.
Berber: There are multiple ways to make a Berber carpet and different materials to choose from. There’s camel wool and sheep wool and it can be knotted, woven, and embroidered. You can tell it’s Berber by the designs they weave into their carpets which are representative of their lifestyle and history such as mountains, woman tattoos, marriage symbols, evil eye, and tents. They are generally less detailed than the Arab carpets. The sheep wool is fluffy and the camel wool is a bit tighter. You can find carpets with either or both. The pricing depends on style, material, quality, and who you’re buying from. The carpets are traditionally dyed with natural colors such as indigo- blue/purple, saffron-yellow, henna-orange, poppy-red, so if you see a carpet with neon colors and they say it’s Berber, that shit is FAKE. They are woven by Berber women so my advice is to buy directly from the woman weaving the carpet in the desert. Like she should literally be sitting over your woven carpet with her loom and wool brush nearby. The women only speak Berber so you’ll still be doing business through a man who is translating, but she should be giving him directions. If not, who knows where your carpet came from. Also, you should be in her home, not in a large carpet shop.
Here is where I bought mine and am extremely satisfied with both the carpets and the service: Razouk El Mahjoub, Tissage des Tapis Berbere Nomad in Tizgui – Tinghir. Phone number (212) 06.42.47.85.27/ 06 27 56 66 47 No posst (45800) 600m des Gorges Tudra. Email: firstname.lastname@example.org
I promised not to share my prices, but I’m just sayin’ I wouldn’t pay anymore than a G, like not even close to half a G, because you also have your credit card transaction fee as well as your shipping fee.
Tuareg: These carpets are usually blue and have an evil eye woven into them. They are more intricate than the Berber but not as intricate as the Arab. Their designs have more sub-Saharan African influence. If you watch the video above, there is a Tuareg rug in progress on the loom.
Nomad: The simplest of carpets, they are plain with different colored symbols very spaced apart. These should be the cheapest. Again, make sure the fringe is not sewn on.
*In general, always use a credit card so you can cancel should some shady shit happen. Some people have not received the carpets they originally bought.*
Silver should be priced by weight. Never buy from a shop that doesn’t provide “the silver test.” The silver test is when they bring out a black stone and rub the silver on it. They should also rub a fake metal on it. Then they should put a drop of acid on each. Within 15 seconds, the real silver will start to glow blue whereas the fake metal will disappear. If the shop doesn’t do this, don’t buy here. It’s fake. The price depends on how many items you buy, the weight, and what stone or gem is embedded in them. For a plain silver ring, I wouldn’t spend more than $20.
The capital for silver is in Tiznit where you might be able to get better prices. You can also find Berber silver jewelry anywhere in Morocco. They are traditionally flat with small etchings. I’m extremely satisfied with the silver I bought in Essaouria which have special lace designs specific to the area that I didn’t see anywhere else in Morocco.
The shop I recommend is Bijourterie Anasse, Chez Miskou. No 13bis Rue Oujda Sidi Mohamed ben abdellah –Essaouira. Gsm: 06 77 78 79 52. He also repairs and does jewelry orders if you wanted to design your own.
Regarding silver tea pots. Make sure you get a silver plated tea pot. But the key is to get an OLD one. That means one that sort of has lost its shimmer and is not shiny at all. I know you’re going to be more attracted to the new ones, but that’s for basic bitches. Get an old one because it’s made out of better material and will last you your entire life. Check the bottom and make sure it is stamped. If it’s not that means it’s a machine made newer one, and it’s basically shit and a lot cheaper.
So, I don’t have a recommendation for a specific shop for this because it’s not the real deal unless you see the goats. Your argan oil should not be bought in a shop but on the side of a road with argan trees and goats nearby. The goats pick the nuts from the argan tree and spit out the seeds. The seeds are then collected and churned to make argan oil. The cosmetic argan oil is lighter while the edible argan oil is darker. The cosmetic argan oil should be slightly yellow and see-through. If you buy argan in a shop, you’ll pay $8-$10 for their smallest bottle. Direct from the farmers, you’ll pay around $5 for a bottle twice the size.
Buying Lamps: The Moroccan lamps are absolutely mesmerizing. But the price depends on weather you want them hand-made or machine made. You can also buy lamps run by candlelight or by electricity. To check if a lamp is hand-made, look inside the lamp and you should be able to find multiple sauter marks where the metal has been joined together, and there should be multiple because they’re made in parts. If you only see one sauter mark or none at all, it’s been made by machine. I personally would buy from a shop with a person sautering them together outside or an antique shop where the lamps are old and better quality, before they had machines. The prices depend on the size, the quality, and hand-made or machine-made. For a small hand-made lamp, you can expect to pay $50-60. For a small machine-made candle-holder, you can expect to pay $7. For a large one like the one pictured, you can expect to pay around $1,000.
Buying Leather: Leather is a tough thing to buy because there are so many objects, variations, and materials. You can get anything from leather hats to footwear to bags to jackets, each having their own price. You can get goat, lamb, camel, and cow. It can even get more specific to camel back versus camel belly, which is softer, lighter, smoother, and more expensive. So it’s hard to tell you what’s a good price for things. But you should test all of your materials by burning them because real leather will withstand the heat.
The leather capitol is Fes, so if you buy any leather item you should be able to custom design it to your needs regarding color, cut, and details within the shop. That’s including leather jackets. Give them 4 hours and you can have your very own design of clothes and bags.
Whatever you do, DONT buy from the fuccbois at the tanneries. They kicked me out cause I didn’t wanna pay $400 for a leather jacket. And then were ordered to laugh in my face on the way out. Funny, cause then the owner called my riad and asked if we could negotiate. Bought 4 leather jackets from his competitor out of spite. Fuck them. Don’t do it.
Spices: Don’t ask how I know this, but the Berber Viagra doesn’t work. Those horny little Berbers don’t need viagra anyway. Save your money.
If I could pick a favorite Medina, it would be the one in Essaouira. I would buy everything in Essaouira unless it’s leather, then in Fes, or carpets in the desert.
Shipping in Morocco
It’s super easy to end up buying things that you never knew you wanted. But who wants to lug all that shit around? There are 3 options for shipping your items. 1) Post Maroc – the national post office. The price that I found for shipping to America is 2 kilos for 290 dirham or 5 pounds for $29. I shipped with Post Maroc and my shit got to my house faster than I did and in impeccable condition. 2) DHL/Fed Ex – private shipping companies. They are more expensive, faster, and more “reliable” than Post Maroc, but like I said, I didn’t have any problems. 3) Shipping from a co-op. The government subsidizes artisan shops and therefore you can ship all of your goods if you buy something from there. But this has to be a government-sponsored shop and usually the prices are a lot more. In addition, they ship super slow. Like don’t expect your stuff for a month.
Happy shopping, friends!