The Shopkeeper

The first weekend in Morocco we took a historical tour of Rabat, which concluded with a few hours at the Medina. The Medina is the older part of the city with very small roadways, mostly meant for walking with the occasional motor bike or mule, and shops lining either side. The shops in the Medina are very different than shops in Canada, not only in content but in the way purchases are made. For the most part there are no set prices. When you find something you like in the store, you look to the shop keeper and say “bush hal?” or “how much?”. The shopkeeper would respond with a price that is double or triple what a local would pay. We would respond with “BEZZAF!!”, which means “ALOT!!”. The shopkeeper would then ask how much you would want to pay. You would have to quickly and strategically decide what price you wanted to start at so that you would end up paying the price you wanted. After a few prices went back and forth you would either get the purchase for around the price you wanted or leave and try to find a better deal. For the most part, in Rabat, the shopkeepers are very kind and aren’t pushy, especially when we tried to use our Arabic.

After two weeks in Rabat, we ventured off to Fez for the weekend. Fez is known for their Medina and so we were excited to use our bargaining strategies that we learned in Rabat. Little did we know the Fez Medina was very different from that in Rabat. The shopkeepers were a lot more aggressive and intimidating in Fez. We went to the leather tannery, which had more than four floors filled with leather. I spotted one bag that I like and immediate I had a shopkeeper at my side asking if I wanted the bag. I said yes and asked how much the bag was. He replied with a price that was way outside my price range. I had a price set in mind and so I told him it was too much and replied with the price I wanted to pay. Of course he said that the price I asked for was too low and after a few prices were exchanged I said thank you but no thank. For approximately half an hour the shopkeeper followed me around the store trying to convince me to buy the bag. As much as I liked the bag, I wasn’t going to pay his price. When we finally went to leave the store, the man was still talking trying to get me to buy the bag. I said I would only buy it if it was at my price, and of course after he had said my price was IMPOSSIBLE, he did eventually sell me the bag at the price I wanted.

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