Morocco is the land of amazing carpets and rugs full of color and design. Moroccan carpets (or a zerbiya in Arabic) can be grouped into two categories: rural and urban, Berber or Arab. Some decorations are influenced by the oriental designs of the Middle East and are beautifully decorated. Berber carpets are unique in their design, and the majority of them are made in one of the 45 distinct Moroccan Berber tribes in the country. Their work is modern and goes well with the Western home design.
Where to Buy Moroccan Carpets
Some of the best carpets can be found in the Marrakech medina and Fes medina. If you have your mind set to buy a carpet, then you should be prepared for bargaining as Moroccan carpets do not have fixed prices. For example, the medina in Marrakech is a highly frequented tourist destination and this has driven prices up. You may have a local guide who can assist with purchasing a carpet.
Entering the Carpet Shop
A general rule before entering a carpet shop with the intent to purchase is to check the prices and variety of carpets in the local cooperation as this will give you an idea some set prices. Most likely you will be able to get a better deal with some skillful haggling.
When entering a carpet’s shop, you will be warmly welcomed and asked some basic questions. These small talk questions actually have great significance since they will determine the initial price of the carpet.
You can expect to be asked questions such as:
Where are you from? How long have you been into the city? Have you been before in the country and the city?
The exchange of greetings and small talk can seem completely innocent to begin your conversation with. You will likely be offered mint tea to drink. Your conversation will provide valuable information to the salesman who will then offer you a price for your desired carpet.
Prepare to Bargain
As a general rule of thumb, you should NOT accept the initial price offered to you. Remember that the salesman probably would not expect you to accept his initial offer. Bargaining is part of the game. Some who are adept at bargaining would suggest to counteroffer with 1/3 of the initial price. Keep cool during the process and smile once in a while to keep the game going while prices are exchanged. This process will repeat until you agree on a price and both parties are satisfied. You should eventually expect to meet around 1/2 of the initial price offered to you.
There is no written rules to bargaining, but a good bargain always result in a satisfied buyer and a satisfied seller. Once you agree to a price, you should not back out as you are expected to follow through with the payment.
Top Tips for Bargaining
- Keep your cool at all times
- Do not be over-enthusiastic about which carpet or mug you like
- Maintain a polite posture
- If you hear an outrageously high price, counter-offer with an outrageously low offer
- Set up a budget and stick to it
- If in the end you do not find a carpet you like, you may move onto another shop. You may need to visit several shops before finding a decent carpet at a reasonable price based on your budget.
Other Morocco Shopping Guides
You might also be interested in our Guide to Purchasing Moroccan Babouche (Leather Slipper)