… to at least find out the price.”
These were JoAnn’s words as we found ourselves, back in the Grand Bazaar, strolling past numerous shops with leather jackets. At various points during our ramble through the maze of shops, I had discretely muttered under my breath what type of leather jacket caught my eye.
One of the shopkeepers was astute enough to catch our momentary pause. “Ladies, ladies, come into my shop. I have leather jacket for you.” We look at each other, then duck through the door and enter a small room. The leather is sorted by color and by style.
I had originally seen a style through the door that had grabbed my attention. It was black. But truth be told, I love red. When I pointed to the style, he then asked what color I liked. “Black? Brown? Burgundy?” I fairly quickly said, “Burgundy.” He sized me up and pulled a jacket off a hanger. It fit great. The color was good. But the collar had a strap with a buckle that didn’t interest me. He tucked the strap back, but he could tell that it was definitely a deal breaker.
A second burgundy jacket was now in his hands, ready for me to try. Once again, it fit great. The deep burgundy was soft. He says, “baby lamb,” to which we tell him it’s better to not have that visual. The collar was much simpler and stylish. The lines were sleek. Wow. I looked good!
My mind had just made the switch from ‘just looking’ to ‘I want this jacket!’ I’m sure the shopkeeper is adept enough at reading all the signs. I had just fallen for the jacket.
I couldn’t just go for it at that point. The sleeves were too long. “No problem. No problem.” He presents me with two options. Cuff them or his tailor can shorten them. And then there’s the question of price. I had just gotten my standard amount of Turkish Lira out of the ATM before entering the Bazaar. I asked the fateful words, “How much?” He tells me the price. It’s more than what’s currently in my pocket. He is smart enough to realize that I’m getting ready to take the bait. He also steps away so I can consult with JoAnn. She thinks it’s a good price for the quality and uniqueness of the piece. She gives me some suggestions on my haggling strategy.
When he comes back in, I tell him how much lira I have in my pocket. If he wants closer to his asking price, I’ll have to use my credit card.
At this point, he doesn’t want me to walk away and he senses (correctly) that he’s got me hooked. But then there are those pesky credit card fees and everything associated with using plastic. He takes my offer.
I’m doing my happy dance in my head. I can’t believe I’m getting this gorgeous red leather jacket!
The tailor comes to measure my sleeves. Shorten 5 cm. The jacket is whisked away and someone comes bearing apple tea while we wait.
These shopkeepers are hard-core salesmen. Now he starts in on JoAnn. She eventually will buy a leather jacket. But she has specific ideas and a plan for what and when she’ll buy. She does show him a design and, of course, he has something similar. He also picks out a size that fits her just right. But she’s not in the market for a jacket today.
“How about your husband?” he says. We say that he’d have to be here to pick it out himself. The shopkeeper asks about her husband’s build. He proceeds to find a buddy who is closer to the height of JoAnn’s husband. The man comes in and tries a few jackets. It’s entertaining. We laugh. Then he looks at me and asks about my husband. I tell him I don’t have one and he then names off various relatives for whom I could purchase a jacket.
Finally my sleeves are shortened and I try on the jacket one last time before making the purchase.
“I look good in this jacket. Maybe this will help me find that husband!”
The shopkeeper laughs and genuinely smiles. We exit his shop and disappear into the crowd.
Shopping Tips for Istanbul…
Shopping outside the Grand Bazaar is often easier and less stressful. If the prices are stated, there’s less room, if any, to negotiate. The Spice Market seemed to have better prices. Just because it’s called the Spice Market doesn’t mean that there are only spices.
Outside of Suleyman Mosque was a shop with a good selection of scarves. They were 20 TL for the pashmina (silk and wool blend) ones.
Whenever you see the stands for fresh orange or pomegranate juice, take advantage of them! The cheapest we found was 2.5 TL for orange and 5 TL for pomegranate. Try the dried fruit and get some for snacks. The dried strawberries are my favorite.