One of the hardest adjustments that we had to make to the culture in Morocco was negotiating for everything we want to buy. Whether you are buying a sandwich or a shirt, everything is negotiated. When we decided to move here we knew that it was something we would have to do at times; what we didn’t realize, however, was that everything here is up for negotiation and that people sell hard.
Walking through the souk and Jamma el Fna when we first arrived was our initial exposure to it all. As we walked through the craziness and tried to take in everything around us as the food vendors constantly bombarded us with their menus. Although we said no several times, these guys were very persistent and by far the most aggressive vendors we had encountered in our travels so far. We were used to negotiating and bargaining in the markets in Central America, but right away we knew that the hard selling techniques here would be something we were going to have to adjust to.
Since then, we’ve adapted to this way of buying and selling here in Marrakech. It took us some time, but now that we’ve been here for a bit, many of the vendors recognize us and give us a fair price. The hard thing to take in sometimes is that we might not ever get the real “local” price, but we’re ok with that. We understand the nature of this culture and why people here sell so hard. The truth is, here in the Marrakech medina, competition is high for all vendors trying to sell anything from orange juice to henna tattoos to jewelry to lamps to rugs and anything else in between.
Many store owners don’t make a single sale all day, so when an opportunity comes to make a sale, the shop owner might increase the price of their product in order to make up for the lack of sales that day. This may not always be the best way to do business as the vendor often scares off potential customers, but it’s just how business is done in the medina in Marrakech. We can’t change it (and we don’t want to), so we just go with it and our negotiating skills have significantly improved because of it.
Many people don’t feel comfortable with this type of business considering it provides for a high pressured shopping experience. Most of us are use to shopping in environments that are inviting and make for an enjoyable shopping experience. We’re thankful to know about both styles of shopping, however, because it gives us a better understanding of what customers want when buying a product. We have never experienced a selling environment quite like the medina in Marrakech, especially anywhere in the United States. It is an experience that you can only get through stepping out of your comfort zone (your box) and learning more about the world as a whole.
It’s important to note that not everyone in Morocco uses the hard selling techniques to make a sale. There are many who don’t, but several of the vendors who work here everyday do. We appreciate the work ethic of these hard working men and women. They inspire us to work harder in everything that we do.
Overall, we’re thankful for what we’ve learned from of the vendors in our town because they’ve helped us see entrepreneurship in a whole new light. Seeing the many different ways that business is done all over the world expands our perspective and allows us to grow into the entrepreneurs we want to be. We’ve learned that sometimes the best lessons come from experiences that force you to step out of your comfort zone and learning how to negotiate in Marrakech has definitely been one of them. We encourage you all to step out of your box–there’s a great big world out there and a lot to learn beyond your own expectations.
To see some of the products we developed with artisans in Marrakech, check out our store!