Shopping for Souvenirs in Antalya

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Let’s talk about shopping and bargaining. This is one of those areas that is very influenced by our own cultural backgrounds and experiences. I grew up in the Philippines, where haggling is part of the process of making a purchase, but is done in a very polite way– because shaming or manipulating someone will disrupt the seller-customer relationship, and relationships are very important. It is better to be a good customer– loyal, keen, and respectful, and then the seller will show you favor, save the best items for you, and throw in some nice extras. I love (love!) a good deal, but it’s still pretty hard for me to be very aggressive in my bargaining. I am more likely to look someone in the eye and ask them if that is, indeed, the very best price they can offer me. If they say yes, then I will accept it. And when you are a foreigner, shopping in a bargaining country you are just visiting, it’s only that single purchase that really matters– the relationship is basically irrelevant. The seller will absolutely try to get as much out of you as possible, and the bottom line is what you are willing to pay at that moment, since the connection pretty much ends after that. I don’t like shopping this way very much– I love developing relationships with people, and have a hard time disconnecting the person who is selling me something from the item itself. While shopping in Turkey, I generally knew I was being ripped off. It was my fault for being a tourist– no one would offer me a Turkish price on anything. And the truth is, that seemed fair, in a way. There I was, on a vacation, with money to spend. There they were, trying to feed their families during the low season.  Why shouldn’t I pay up? Still, knowing that I was overpaying made the experience much less fun for me.

OK, so this is exactly the sort of place I would usually avoid, but we found our favorite souvenir here!

I am used to shopping in non-tourist markets, and avoid souvenir shops like the plague. In Turkey, though, I had a hard time finding any place that carried things I wanted that were not geared toward tourists. So, I went for it. I did my best to come across as skeptical, and I always asked for a better price. But I did not demand half the original asking price, as many recommended. Often, when I asked for a much lower price, the seller told me that during high season, they charge much more. I kind of believe it, since everyone was so eager to make a sale, yet a bit apathetic toward bargaining and had very little leeway in their prices. I’ll show some pictures of the shops here, and then in future posts I’ll share what I actually brought home!

Watch out– if your child looks interested in costumes, she will quickly be turned into a little belly dancer!

So, we did some shopping in these spots… It was pretty tiring, frankly, and I wasn’t super happy with the quality and prices in these markets. I kind of felt like a sucker, but it was our last day in Turkey, and I really wanted to bring some things home. I definitely felt the pressure, and just did the best I could. And then we found this unusual place. I’ll tell you all about it tomorrow!
How do you like to shop when you travel? How do you feel about haggling– part of the fun, or not so much?

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10 Responses to Shopping for Souvenirs in Antalya

  1. Gypmar February 15, 2012 at 11:46 pm #

    Hoo boy. I DESPISE haggling. Takes all of the fun out of shopping for me.

    I remember asking how much something was at an antique street fair in Germany. The man told me the price, at which I nodded and then turned to leave. “You’re supposed to say another price!” he called out after me, completely exasperated. I ended up buying the cool classroom picture of the 4-cylinder motor, but it was an uncomfortable experience

    I will never forget being with my grandma in Mexico and watching her haggle in Spanish with the street vendors over some turquoise and silver jewelry. I thought she was so mean. A man was yelling out lower price after lower price after us as she walked off down the street with me. I think it was a sport to her.

    When my mom and sister went to Israel, they had to have their Israeli hosts buy all their meals/souvenirs when they were out together in order to avoid the crazy tourist markup, even in restaurants.

    • Ariana February 17, 2012 at 10:19 am #

      Gypsy, I have usually been with locals when visiting a new country, so no one could really take advantage, really. It definitely feels strange to me now to be a real tourist, without a local contact when we travel.

      Something I appreciated about bargaining in Germany is that Germans, on the whole, have a very strong sense of fairness. I had the sense that if I asked someone for their best price, they would give it to me. When I shopped for antiques there, I tried to buy more than one thing at a time from a seller, so they would give me an even better price. People were often surprised by how little I spent on some cool stuff. I think there is a lot to be said for smiling and being polite when negotiating. But it seems to work best in more western countries…

  2. Kristen - Anywhere There's An Airport February 16, 2012 at 1:35 am #

    I don’t mind a good banter over price… but I have to be in the mood. If I’m not in the right frame of mind I just avoid it all together. I try to keep travel shopping to only items I can’t get anywhere else. Maybe one special item per city. Though there are plenty of places where all I have is the pictures. Good enough for me! 🙂

    • Ariana February 17, 2012 at 10:21 am #

      Yep, you have to be in the mood, for sure! And it’s good to keep in mind what it’s worth TO YOU, not in terms of cost to the seller. And pictures are a wonderful souvenir!

  3. Shackelmom February 16, 2012 at 7:41 am #

    I’m the same as you, I don’t like the kind of haggling that people say to do in Turkey. Friendly dickering, yes, I like to feel I made an effort to get a better price, but I will pay what I think it is worth to me, even if it is not the lowest possible price. I always tried to look disinterested in Turkey, but did’t always succeed!

    Amelia in the Turkish outfit is adorable!!!! So cute!

    • Ariana February 17, 2012 at 10:24 am #

      Yeah, a friendly exchange is best. I didn’t like being tricked into witnessing a big product demo, and did my best to look skeptical so nobody got their hopes up too high. I really felt bad for all of the sellers just waiting around all day for someone to walk by. I could understand the desperation to just get someone to buy something, and honestly, as an empathetic person, it was pretty hard to resist.

  4. Hausfrau February 16, 2012 at 1:36 pm #

    Can’t wait to see what you bought!

    I think I shop in much the same way as you. Funny, I used to haggle all the time at garage sales in the States, but overseas I find that I am not all that willing to haggle. My husband will do it more than I will, for sure.

    • Ariana February 17, 2012 at 10:27 am #

      Something that makes it harder in a foreign country is that you don’t actually have a firm grasp on appropriate pricing! I was really aware that I didn’t want to offend anyone, or manage to take all the profit away from them. The negotiations were kind of stressful for me for that reason, so I sometimes walked away and let Jeff work out the final price. I would definitely rather know one price, and work it out in my mind if it’s worth that to me or not!

  5. Nathan February 17, 2012 at 11:58 am #

    Yeah, this haggling and touristic shopping venues were the reasons I was able to spend a day in Morocco and come home without a thing besides photos. We were routed to the “inside” markets and the prices were really high in Euros. I just felt like if I spent money I’d be part of some sort of unfortunate herd. I couldn’t make myself do it. Some in our group spent hundreds that day on spices and trinkets.


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