The Travel Tart
Offbeat Tales From A Travel Addict

Buy Carpet – The Art of Buying One in Turkey!

Buy a Carpet – Turkish Style!

Buying a Carpet.  How it really happens!

carpet-sellerUndergoing Intense Negotiations with a Carpet Seller!

I entered a random Carpet Shop where another couple were being subjected to the mystical marketing ways of a middle-aged carpet seller.  The walls were piled with carpets and kilims of intermingled scarlets, greens, indigos and any other colour female Turkish carpet weavers found appealing on any given day.

‘Hello, please sit down; I will be with you in a moment.  No obligation!’

At that point, I wasn’t that interesting in Buying a Carpet.

The carpet seller was in the process of commencing the carpet selling process to a couple sitting on the floor, sipping the customary elma çay (apple tea) that is always used to commence business proceedings.

‘How about this one?  Here is a nice carpet, for you.  Do you like it?’

‘Thank you, but…do…you…speak…Spanish?’ replied the daunted prospective customer.

‘That is okay, I can speak some Spanish instead. ‘Si, yo hablo español.’

Buy a Carpet in Every Language!

These carpet sellers must know the words ‘sell to you at my very best price’ in every known language, possibly Martian as well.  I imagined how I could become a language aficionado at the Istanbul Academy of Carpet Selling to Gullible Tourists, which produced an over-abundance of graduates waiting in line to occupy their own carpet shop in Kapali Çarşi.

I figured out this is how carpet shopping in Turkey works – if you walk within eyeshot or earshot of a carpet shop, you will undoubtedly hear – ‘Hey, would you like to see a genuine Turkish carpet for a very good price? Is nice!’  This lures the unsuspecting tourist into the store, where the carpet seller will immediately throw their entire lifetime’s stock onto the shop floor.

You like this very much?’ whilst he throws a fantastically-crafted carpet on the flooring.

‘You like, this, how about this one?’ throwing more carpets on the ground.

‘This? This?  This one? You like this?’ once again, throwing more carpets on the floor, steadily forming a rug mountain rivalling Mount Ararat.

Suddenly, the ‘customer formerly known as window shopping’ is flooded with a pile of carpets with enough surface area to cover the entire Grand Bazaar, and possibly, all of Istanbul.  The now overwhelmed carpet punter starts feeling ‘carpet guilt’ because the poor carpet seller has to pick up approximately 10,000 woven sheep, goats, or camels after the customer had no intention of buying anything resembling livestock locks in the first place.

The carpet seller then supplies tea, sometimes of the apple variety, which is probably spiked with carpet buying conformity drugs.  They then tell you how much they like you; so much in fact, they will provide a fantastic discount – the dreaded ‘special friend price’.  They only paid (insert dollar value here) for the carpet and they will sell it to you for the ‘I sell my carpets so cheap that I have a closing down sale every week’ price, which is only (insert dollar value here plus 10 bucks, slightly less for handing wads of Turkish lira cash).

Unbelievably, whilst you may be the 1000th person to enter his shop this morning, you are the very first person they’ve ever revealed this special price to.  When you finally reveal that you are only a poor filthy backpacker immersing yourself into Turkish culture and they realise your current income is going backwards, they settle down a bit.

When you finally depart the Carpet Store, probably to be persuaded into another, three hours and 10 apple teas later, you are almost certainly the proud owner of at least three new carpets.

Buying a Carpet is a Lot of Fun!

Overall, I thought the Carpet selling procedure was just a game, and a fun one at that.  If you do go through the process, don’t take it too seriously, because the carpet sellers don’t!

Hope this advice helps the next time you buy a carpet!

But if you want more serious advice – check out Rugs to Riches: Guide to Buying Oriental Rugs, Revised & Updated Edition, and Classical Tradition in Anatolian Carpets.

About Anthony The Travel Tart

The Travel Tart writes about the funny, offbeat and weird aspects of world travel today. Travel wasn't meant to be taken too seriously! Check out ways to say hi below or sign up for his silly newsletter!

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  1. Frederick Gaghauna Frederick Gaghauna
    October 23, 2009    

    Hahahahaha Very nice info!! I am planning to go to Turkey Next March 2010! I do enjoy all your story about Turkey!!! SUPERB!

  2. January 14, 2010    

    This looks like so much fun! The trick is how to keep it clean after you get it back home, though 🙂

  3. March 16, 2010    

    Great tips and pics presented in such a fun way too!

    Your pages will definitely be bookmarked 🙂

    Ann, T.S.

  4. Mike@Carpet Cleaning Liverpool Mike@Carpet Cleaning Liverpool
    December 31, 2010    

    Nice wigs lads haha. Turkish people are very pleasent people, i went there many years ago now and everyone meet treat you like family.

    Thanks for posting this, sounds like a great adventure.

  5. Nico Nico
    February 22, 2013    

    Substitute drink and item and you have the basis of a tourist meets shopkeeper negotiation in any part of the world. Always a good laugh as long as you don’t take things too personally.

    • February 23, 2013    

      That’s right. And the Turks don’t take themselves too seriously, and neither should anyone!

  6. April 9, 2014    

    I love the way you describe the selling process – best version I have read! Mainly because it made me laugh. You have a humorous sense in your writing.

  7. April 10, 2016    

    I personally could not tell you if a carpet was old or new but I did have a third generation carpet buy tell me some tips. Single knot is not better than dounble knot, just different places use different knot. Wool on cotton, wool on wool with natural dye will last for many generations. Make sure if they say its silk that it is silk sometimes polyester. If you get a natural dye carpet more than 50 years old except to pay more than $4,000. If you get a Pakistani carpet you can get for around $1000. Just because you go to factory does not mean you are not gettıng a Turkish or Iranian carpet you may still get a Pakıstani or even carpet from China carpet.

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