Check out this pom-pom heaven! How many of these cute baskets and bags could you use? (Answer = all of them). I’m just back from the souks of Marrakech where I spent the weekend eyeing up nick-nacks and learning how to haggle.
Bargaining is a very different approach to pushing a trolley around the supermarket. There isn’t a fixed price, so it’s difficult to decide whether your allegedly hand-made, hand-dyed slippers are worth 50 or 500 dirhams. Then you have to engage in the lengthy process of beating the stallholder down to an acceptable price, which may involve taking mint tea and debating the pros and cons of his Jack Wills t-shirt. All of which is fine if you’re in holiday mode but not if you’ve got Mr Minted in tow, who is bored and grizzly in the 35 degrees heat.
The usual practice is to offer a third of the asking price and, after some polite toing and froing, settle on half. I thought I’d achieved a decent price for a make-up bag by doing exactly that. From 250 dirhams, I got it down to 110. How furious was I, then, when I walked past a fixed-price shop and saw the exact same bag listed as 50 dirhams?
Bearing in mind that 100 dirhams is about £8, I didn’t really lose out that much. However, it was the principle of it that made me mad (I felt I’d been cheated) and that put me off shopping for at least two hours. Then, sulking back at the hotel, I started a conversation with a British lady who was in town sourcing products for her interior design business. An expert, I felt. Her advice was to think how much the object would cost at home, halve it and stick like glue to that number. And if you pay a little too much well, is it really such an issue? You still have a souvenir (and no regrets at home about not buying it) and the merchant wins too. Armed with this insight, I went back to the Medina with more confidence. I may not have got the absolute lowest price for everything but I was happy with what I paid.
The whole experience made me review shopping in UK. We accept the price tag without too much thought but what are things really worth? When you look at prices online, it begs the question of how shops get away with charging what they do. If they can flog off their stock in a sale at 70% reductions (obviously the floor under which they start making a loss) why should you buy at full price to begin with? It strikes me that a bit of bargaining in dear old Blighty might be appropriate. John Lewis, you have been warned.
See the SMM guide to saving on shopping here.