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Rug buying story
1.       Roswitha
4132 posts
 08 Jun 2008 Sun 12:11 am

My first day into the city I was tired off a 24 hour train ride and didn’t feel like seeing the sights, but also didn’t feel like sitting around. I didn’t know anyone to hang out with so I ended up going for a walk. I knew you had to ‘be in good spirits’ in order to take in any shopping near the Grand Bazaar because of the aggressive sales tactics, but I was still intrigued about seeing it. So on the way over, I walked off my mood and was feeling good as I hit the Bazaar, which is really like an indoor maze of sidewalk shops selling everything cheap, touristy, leathery, jewely-ry and gold. There are actually some good things there and of course, rug shops line the avenues and surrounding stores. It’s normally very crowded and loud and people are calling at you to step inside their shop, saying lines like…”You need something? My store has everything! I just have no customers? Come in, we’ll drink some tea.” The recruiters (those whose job is to stand outside and recruit people inside) have uncanny ways of reading the situation, playing the sympathy card puppy dog eyes with the girls and buddy buddy card with the guys…

I managed to negotiate my way through the entire bazaar without getting trapped into buying anything. I began to think to myself…you know none of this stuff appeals to me unless I have a home, one, or am an old man, two. The latter being because I think it would be neat to have a chest for major int’l cities, a treasure chest of sorts. You fill it with market stuff, jewelry for the girls, old knifes and masks for the boys, and then when the family comes over the kids get to dig in a chest and get something cool. (Thoughts of the lonely traveler)

Anyway, I made it out of the market to the final entrance and a guy my age, clean cut, comes up to me and says, “my friend are you interested in any rugs today?” Simple and direct.

I said “no, I’m not looking to buy.” He said, “Well have you seen what they are about, how they’re made, various patterns. If you don’t want to buy, come inside and at least let me show you this…so you have a better idea, learn something here at the market.” Well that hit the damn nerve. Everyone’s interested in learning a little about something famous like Istanbul Rugs.

So I said the famous last words….”OK”

Now subconsciously, coming to Istanbul, if you have the means, deep down most people want to buy a rug. Most don’t need a rug, most men especially could care less about owning a rug, but still there’s that excitement about the product and process. So walking into this shop, I did have the subconscious buzz going on inside me about actually following through. I just didn’t want to release it without good reason.

So we walk into the shop, him leading the way, saying “Oh are you from Texas? Austin? Houston? Where from? Oh San Antonio? You know my cousin married a girl from Corpus Christi and they own a shop there? Great place. Hot place I’m told?” I’m nodding.

We get into the shop and he snaps his fingers – his two brothers and him own the store – they come – he asks me Apple or Local Chai Tea? Chai is stronger. He says the tourists like the apple. I get the Chai – drink it in Sudan. He begins to tell me about the two types of rugs and quality and where they’re made and says lets look at a few. I tell him I like the thinner kind (more practical for me now) and we look at a couple. I’m not that interested and he says, “I have a slew of them over at my warehouse. Come with me, just around the corner – I promise you’ll like.”

I knew now it was a major cross roads I was taking going with him, but magically enough the tea had not arrived and I felt somewhat compelled to have his tea. So I went with him out of the shop up two blocks to his bigger shop and basement warehouse. In procession, he was ranting in Turkish to his brothers, Chai Chai… Chai Chai, as if to really order it now, and snapped his fingers to bring it to the shop.

As we walk, he says I am his first customer today (at 5:30pm) and that I’m about to see the best rugs he’s got. He says it’s a hard business with the competition and his is family owned, passed down to the three brothers from his deceased father. He’s 24 and been working it since 13…yada yada yada…

I mean, come on, but I couldn’t help but smile at the absurdity of his emotional appeal.

We walk into the shop and down into the basement and sit on a little couch and the tea finally arrives. He has two helpers start to unfold rugs after he asks me a few preference questions. I tell him I’m not interested in buying but he says, “that just fine, lets just find one’s you like and then narrow them down…”

So I acquiesce. He starts to pull some out and I don’t really like them and he pulls a few more. After showing about 20 I ask, “about what ballpark are we looking at for a rug of this type?” and he responds, “My friend, we will not talk such matters yet. Let’s find what you like first.”

I think, but am I going to buy?

So we go through another 20 and finally I say, I saw about five that were acceptable, and we narrow them down, then to two and finally one that stands out to me above the rest. He says this particular one is very old and has a unique pattern and isn’t made anymore. He’s just reading from a script.

So I’m entertaining the idea and say, “well how much?” He snaps his fingers and his helpers bring over a big calculator and he starts to punch numbers as if he didn’t already have the conversions and margins memorized and said…”since this carpet is unique, I could charge you a higher price. But because you have been good and are an honest American I think I can do better.

The price of the rug is “900 but I will offer it to you for”….and he shows me the calculator with $800 USD typed into it.

He then says, as if to hit me in the negotiating belly, “I tried selling one to an Italian last week and he was soo cheap. He thought he could negotiate and I offered him a price and he said only 20% of the price. I laughed at him and then got mad because it was disrespectful to me and my business. 20%, Ha!”.

I was truly laughing inside. This whole thing was just too much. But I thought to myself, for a lifetime rug, I would probably be willing to do $500. So I told him, “That’s just more than I’m willing to spend. $500 is what I was looking to pay today.”

He laughed, and said “my friend, that is at cost to me. There is no way.”

He then proceeds “how about you try the apple tea (as if it’s laced with “relaxed decision making”) and snaps his fingers. He smiles at me (and we lock eyes knowing the dance has began.) He knows he has me at this point but I know I can get him to. Now it’s not even about the rug anymore. It’s about who can get a better end of the negotiation.

He pauses for a moment, looks at me says definitively, “your best price.” I say $500. He says, “Can’t happen”. He pauses and says again “ Best Price”. I smile and say, Okay 550. He says, “My friend, this is still not enough to cover the cost of the carpet. I have rent and employees and overhead and it is simply not the value of the rug. I was thinking more like $750.”

I said, “I am not even here to buy a carpet, but if I was, I can truly only afford 500. I’m willing to go 550 but you still say this is not enough. If you want your purchase, I will go no higher than $600.”

He shakes his head, lets the silence kick in. I know the first person to talk in this situation looses so I keep my mouth shut.

He tries again, “Your best price”. I smile and it’s 600.

“Best price?”

“600”

He reaches out to shake my hand and says, “we will agree on 650, okay? Deal?” and shakes my hand as if to firm it up. I say “I can only do 600. I’m not going to pay anymore”.

He looks at the ground, then looks me in the eyes, reaches out his hand, smiles and says “okay, 600 but only if you tip my two guys 10 euros each”. (Which was kind of a cheap slap in my face for accepting my offer because I can’t say no to his subservient helpers who probably make $3 an hour.)

And so the deal was done. And I guess if you think about who won, it was really him, because he got a person who wasn’t going to purchase to actually make the purchase. But I win too because I got the story and the rug.

And so we went to seal the deal and pay and he tried even more….”have you seen our silks. They are the most beautiful we have to offer. Very best Quality..” This while we get more tea and the payment is taking time away from the shop. I sit down and exhale, thinking we’re not going through a round two.

So I say, “Show me some silks. Let’s see what they’re all about.” And so round two begins. His brother goes and gets some small silks – I told him I didn’t want large ones… And he tells me about the two different qualities and shows me the difference and throws about 30 on the ground, saying which one do you like best? I say, I don’t know I’m 27. This doesn’t really appeal to me.” He says, “It’s for your mother. Pick a nice silk for your mother.” I ask, just to get a complete picture, what the costs are for silks of this size and he again refuses to answer. Finally I actually find one that is very beautiful and would go nice somewhere but definitely not in my house in the next 20 years… and he continues to use the mother card to lure me in of which is kind of working. He asks me, “for your mother, how much would you pay?” I say, (no offense mom), I can afford $200. He laughs and again says this is way to low as the value of the carpet is $500. I say, “Well I just bought a carpet and don’t need another” and he again responds with “Best Price…your best price” We haggle and finally I don’t budge from $250 which he wont agree to. I grab my bag and walk out of the store and he chases after me saying, at $250 he makes nothing, please $300.

We have gotten to the phase of begging now of which takes the fun out of the game and I say no, I’m leaving with my rug. He finally says Ok ok $250. But I say it’s too late, I don’t need a tiny silk rug and cant afford a tiny silk rug and he says “but it’s a nice gift for your mother” and I just laugh and walk away.

And so I wasn’t sure whether to feel as good about my purchase after he took it too far, but the first round was fun. Anyway, that is my rug buying story. Something everyone should go through once or twice in their life.

http://mattsiller.com/blog/?m=200608

2.       teaschip
3870 posts
 09 Jun 2008 Mon 04:42 pm

Neat story..It reminds me of my bargaining days in Mexico. lol

3.       Leelu
1746 posts
 11 Jun 2008 Wed 12:24 am

I am no good at bargaining .. which is one of the reasons I will stay away from rug shops!! lol lol lol

4.       libralady
5152 posts
 11 Jun 2008 Wed 02:08 pm

Despite my Carpet Seller Tale, I now have a beatiful Turkish Rug in one of my bedrooms, and bought with the help of a wonderful Turkish friend, experienced at bargaining

We have this funny comedy of an old junk shop that perports to be an antiques shop. The thread of the joke is, that well heeled women come to the shop to buy an "antique" and he sells then rubbish, but while doing so he says "I saw you coming" ! Of course these women are a bit dim and they think he literally saw them coming along the street Bit like the carpet sellers when they see English people heading their way!

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