Posted by: travelrat | April 19, 2010

Casablanca Co-operative

Casablanca: 11th March 2009

Normally, when a guide takes us to a particular shop, it’s because he or she receives a commission on anything we buy. So, normally, I prefer to do any shopping I might want in my free time. However, in Casablanca, it was different.

Shopping in Morocco is like in many other countries, a protracted business of haggling and bargaining, often over a cup of tea. Depending on your point of view, it’s either an entertaining, if time-consuming business or a total pain in the hindquarters.

‘But, we don’t really have time for that; there’s a lot to see!’

said Samir, our guide, as he led us to a ‘co-operative’, where all the prices were fixed … and, they’d take euros; there was no need to buy Moroccan dirhams.

Actually, ‘souvenir shop’ isn’t really the right description. ‘Craft centre’, maybe? Because, you could actually see the craftsmen at work. Metalworkers, mainly, turning out plates, vases and even water-pipes (that’s the kind you smoke, not what your bath water comes through). Leather workers; Morocco is, of course, famous for leather, and I still treasure the leather jacket I bought in Morocco on a previous visit.

But, we thought of the airline baggage limits in the distant (it seemed) future, and confined ourselves to a small plate and a fridge magnet.

As a complete contrast, waiting for the bus outside, I was approached by a street vendor:

‘You want to buy a watch?’

‘No thanks; I have a watch’

‘Genuine Rolex?’

 

Oh, yeah? And I’m George Clooney! But, I didn’t say it, though I did wonder to myself how many ‘genuine Rolexes’ he sold.

Read about my ‘chocolate overload’ at http://globalfoodie.com/2010/04/spain-chocolate-con-churros/


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  2. I am not a great haggler and would find the whole process quite stressful, but I would love to experience the hustle and bustle of the market. Is it still correct to refer to it as a bazaar?

    • Bazaar or suq are good words; medina is a good one, too. Although I think it really means ‘town centre’, this is usually where the markets are.

  3. >>I am not a great haggler and would find the whole process quite stressful,<<

    I do it all the time; stuff like asking for discounts for cash, etc. Best scoop was my car … paid cash; went to Derby to collect it & didn't have a trade-in (sold my last one privately).

    Thing to remember in Africa and the Middle East: He usually wants to sell more than you want to buy, and will NOT get upset (although will usually put on a pretty good act) if you offer him a ridiculously low figure.

    Usual rule of thumb is he asks for twice what he expects to get; you offer half what you expect to pay & you meet somewhere in the middle.

  4. “Genuine Rolex” lol

  5. Did he not have a cousin who also sold carpets? I’ve met more street traders with ‘cousins’ who could let me have a ‘special price’ carpet than I’ve had hot dinners. Having said that, a bit of haggling when walking in the town at night with plenty of time can be fun, but it’s too time-consuming during the day when there are things to see and do. I’ve never been to Casablanca, my experience is only of other parts of Morocco and Turkey.

    • Yes; co-operatives and fixed price shops are the places to go if time’s of the essence. I can’t say anyone tried the hard sell on carpets but paintings! Just about all the street vendors sell them!


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