In the villages and towns that make up beautiful Morocco, you can find souks and outdoor markets displaying some of the finest Moroccan crafts and threadworks available. In the smaller countryside villages and towns, the same souks and markets display their offerings on a weekly basis. Each village or town in a particular region takes turns as to which day of the week its souks and markets occur.
When it comes to the souks and markets in larger cities such as Fez, an entire street block is setup for one particular craft or threadwork on display. Each different item available for sale displays on individual street sections or in the city square on a daily basis. The fashionable Morocco clothing and fabric section, for instance, can take up an entire city block. The crowds are immense but there’s a certain fluidity to it all.
Before you venture into the souks and markets of Morocco, understand that bargaining for the price of an item is an accepted (and almost obligatory) Morocco shopping practice. The price shown on an item is merely a starting block, often displayed openly so when police officers go by, they know prices are set and legit for tourist.
Vendors expect and know that you will offer a lower price. The more time and patience you are willing to give in the bargaining process–perhaps over a cup o’ mint tea or a Morocco meal–the better the price you will pay. If you find a particular item of interest but are not sure how much to offer, kindly tell the vendor you will return later. Locate a store that sells similar items at a fixed priced. With an idea of what you would pay elsewhere, return to the vendor and begin bargaining for somewhere around that fixed store price. In the end, persistence and patience will go a long way, while anger and frustration will not. It may be worth your while to hire a tourist guide to bargain with you.
Through the years, Moroccan craft artistry has changed due to modern techniques and chemical dyes used in the creation process. There are still high quality craft pieces displayed at Moroccan souks and market places, however. Start by getting as close to an art piece as a vendor will allow. Study the item carefully to make sure that the artistry is exactly what you are looking for. To get a better idea of exactly what it is that you are looking for, visit one of the authentic craft museums in Morocco. Popular pieces of pottery include the Chefchaouen multiple color sections and the blue-and-white designs featured in Fez.
Some of the most sought-after items in Moroccan souks and markets are Moroccan carpets, blankets and Moroccan rugs. All are hand crafted in traditional Moroccan style. What you can expect to pay for these items depends on where in the country you are shopping. Larger cities will make these items out of high quality Arab fabrics through a process called knotting. Here the price tags can range in the thousands. Smaller villages use the process of weaving for a much lower price tag.
By Sam Mitchell