Whether it's shopping or a taxi cab ride, most prices are up for negotiation in Marrakech. The city is famous for its medina: a maze of spices, trinkets, and rugs. Need a new pair of shoes? The medina has it. Looking to get a great Chanel knock off? Yup, it has that too. Did you come to Marrakech to buy rugs to fill your new house? You're in the right place.
Bargaining in the Medina
Tip 1: Shop around. Before you buy shop around. The medina has a lot of amazing things, but most of the shops sell the same, if not very similar items. If you can't get a good deal in one shop on an item that you want, try another.
Tip 2: Act interested, but not too interested. You need the shop owner to know that you are interested, but not interested enough to buy at the price they are offering. When I was in Marrakech my friends and I used a code word if we were interested in something. That way the shop owner didn't know we loved the item and would think he needed to work with me to get me to make the sale.
Tip 3: Low ball. Don't be afraid that you'll offend the shop owners with low offers, they love to bargain and enjoy the chase. Ask how much an item is and then give an extremely low offer. For example a shop owner wanted to charge me 300 DH for a beach bag with pom poms on it. I offered him 100 DH and we eventually settled on 150 DH.
Tip 4: Don't be afraid to walk away. If you walk away the shop owner isn't going to be making any money. If you aren't getting the price you want walk away. Chances are the shop keeper will run after you asking what your best price is.
Bargaining for Rugs
Tip 1: Have tea. Don't think its weird if the rug sellers offer you some tea before you begin the bargaining, i's tradition and seen as proper hospitality.
Tip 2: Don't fall for tricks. I was told Will Smith had bought a rug at the same shop I was at. The rug seller even showed me a picture his brother took with Will Smith while he was at his shop. After visiting a few rug shops I noticed that just about every rug seller had this same photo. Many rugs that are sold in Marrakech now are actually made in India, and are not actually traditional Berber or Arab rugs. It's hard to tell which rugs are real and which are fake, but keep this in mind when buying.
Tip 3: Go to smaller cities like Rabat for rugs. The rug prices in Marrakech are much higher than in smaller cities where there is less competition or tourism. If you are going to buy rugs in Marrakech I recommend going in the winter, early spring, or late fall when there are less tourists. Shop keepers will be more likely to give you a better deal when business is slow.
If you are planning a trip to Morocco to buy rugs here are some things to consider before you go.