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Stress-free guide to rug shopping in Morocco

Buying a rug in Morocco is a fun yet often daunting experience for the uninitiated. 
Here's some tips to help you enjoy a stress-free rug shopping trip. 

Measure up
Don’t make the mistake of spending all your holiday money on a rug that’s too big to fit in your room. Write down your minimum and maximum sizes before you do and think about colours that will complement the room it’s intended for.

Whittle it down
Go in with a definitive idea of what style you want. It will save you time and narrow down the amount of rugs you need to look at in each shop.

Have a budget
And stick to it. It’s easy to get carried away in the moment but remember you still have to pay for shipping and customs. Prices vary depending on age and rarity of design. Remember to do a currency conversion before you agree the final price, you don’t want the shock when you return home!

Go in clear-headed
While I don’t advocate heavy drinking the night before, I once did my best deal with a massive hangover, as I simply didn’t care, and looked so laissez-faire the dealers were desperate to please. I walked out with 2 stunning cushion covers for less than £20! Saying that you need a clear head for all the calculations/currency changes.

Bargain away
Rugs sellers love to haggle; it’s what they do day in, day out. So why let them down by not partaking in the banter? Once you are serious about buying an item, go for it and enjoy the exchange. If it’s not working out, walk away. More often than not, if you walk away, the price will instantly fall. But don’t take it too far. Once you know it’s a keeper, agree on the price and you’ve entered a verbal agreement. Whatever you do, don’t nod to the first price they give you, it will be massively inflated. They are testing out your mantle. Listen to the price and don’t be afraid to half it. The general rule of thumb is to offer half of the seller’s first price and go from there. 

Go it alone
Let’s face it, it’s so boring for anyone else to traipse around rug shops and you’ll feel pressured into rushing. But it can be useful to have a friend return with you to the shop, if you’re finding it hard to make a final choice.

Avoid hiring a guide
Having a guide with you is certainly useful for navigating the souks but remember they are going to get a cut from whatever you buy, so he (invariably a he) will be keen for you to spend the most you can afford, the final price you pay will be massively inflated. He will also steer you towards shops where he knows the owner/has an arrangement, so you might not be going to the best shops. 

Check the quality
The best way to check you are buying 100% wool and not synthetic is to take a lighter to the tassels and hold the flame to it. If it burns, it isn’t wool. If you’re not sure trust your instinct and walk away. 

Learn some key phrases
Having some Arabic under your belt certainly helps; try to learn these key phrases:

Greetings – as-salám aláykum (peace be with you)
(reply) waláykum as-salám (and to you peace)

Thank you – shúkran
Yes – náam or áiwa
No – la
Cheap – rakhís 
Expensive (very) – gháli (jídan)
Too expensive – ktir gháli
How much does it cost? adáysh?/bikaim?
I like this – buhíbb hádha
I do not like this – ma buhíbb hádha

Rare Azilal rug purchased from Mustapha Blaoui 144 Arset Aouzal Rd, Marrakesh


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