ISTANBUL–Istanbul’s Grand Bazaar is the mother of all bazaars. It’s one of the oldest covered bazaars in the world (it opened in 1461), and according to my taxi driver, contains over 3,000 shops.
Undeterred by the scope and size (and between fashion shows), I set out to shop. You can find almost anything within the confines of the bazaar. Beyond the killims–the hand woven carpets Turkey is known for–I was surprised to see stalls upon stalls of designer knock offs mixed in with the vintage jewelry, vibrant textiles, and copper Aladdin-style lamps. Some fakes were better than others. The Luis Vuitton bags with labels that read “From Louis Vuitton Printemps/Ete 2010 Collections as shown in Paris” were not so good. Neither were these label-whore-y sheets (I’m just waiting to see them on an episode of Cribs). The Mulberry Alexa and Fendi Peek-a-Boo knock offs were much more impressive.
But after you’ve sifted through the fakes, and decided you want to make a purchase, ready your game face. The bargaining at the Grand Bazaar is not for the faint of heart. Vendors will get angry or look like you just broke their heart if you don’t like their price. Luckily, I had Britt along with me who passed along Papa Aboutaleb’s words of wisdom: Ask for half the asking price, and when they don’t bite, walk away. They will follow you and acquiesce. Worked like a charm!
What is your bargaining strategy? I’d love more advice. I want this carpet bag bad and I can’t get the price down.