Shopping The Marrakesh Souks Is Not For The Weak of Heart or Wallet

Let’s go souking now, everybody’s shopping now, come on a shopping spree with me!

It’s souk Sunday here in Marrakesh. While most of the stores are open year-round and at various hours, it seemed Sunday was just as good a time as ever to get harassed by shopkeepers for multiple hours.

It’s like the shopping equivalent of schoolyard bullying. Instead of trying to steal your lunch money, the merchants are trying to steal your lunch money in return for something that you don’t need.

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Souk shopping is pretty much like the Grand Bazaar in Istanbul except that here in Marrakesh, that doesn’t seem to be much order or structure. There’s kind of a fabric section. There’s kind of a metal section. There’s kind of a leather section.

The similarities are far greater. You’ll get harassed to no end. If you even glance towards the direction of a shop, you’ll get followed for two minutes. It will start with “Where are you from?” either in French or English. If the guy was talking to me in French, I’m not sure if I should have been flattered or insulted. Then again, the majority of tourists here are French.

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The aggression can get pretty intense. Today, I looked towards a shop of head wraps and the guy pretty much grabbed me, took my hat off and started wrapping my head. I’ll admit, I was a little bit panicked. “Not to buy, not to buy, look here, look here” he kept on saying. His hold on me was good. After a few seconds, “This is not good. Please stop.” I almost pulled the “I’m from New York” card.

I had to squat down to get him and the wrap off of me. I yelled, “NO” and walked off.

Yeah, they don’t show you that aspect in the travel and tourism videos and promotional materials. Come shop at the souks and get molested with fabric.

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I can see why the souks can be a shopper’s paradise. I can’t attest to the quality of the fabrics or metal works, but it does look better than the shit you see at Pier One Imports or Anthropologie. On of the other hand, after hours of walking through, it does seem that the shops are selling the same stuff. I kept on seeing the same stripped bowls and tangines.

The amount of merchandise each stall has it’s staggering. When I get back, I want to look into how much profit these stores actually make. I have a feeling that if I returned in five years, I’ll see the same products … not the same kinds, the actual items themselves.

I did purchase some small things which I will tell you about later.

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