Have I got a deal for you!

A rug merchant at the Grand Bazaar in Istanbul

The bazaars in India and Turkey are fantastic places to bargain. You spot something you’ve absolutely got to have, you find out the price, and then you and the merchant negotiate what you’ll really pay. Haggling is part of the fun. You walk away feeling like you made out like a bandit and the retailer silently chuckles because he raised the price 500 percent in the first place.

Forget Black Friday. Let’s start converting our stores into Grand Bazaars, instead of playing games to see how we can outdo each other with coupons, discounts, specials, offers, freebies, two-for-the-price-of-one and limited-time-only sales. Markups are two and three times what retailers pay for the products, anyway. Someone’s got to pay the rent.

If you sell great-looking product, you don't need fancy displays. The dinnerware and scarves look delicious at the Grand Bazaar in Istanbul.

Bazaar merchants don’t worry about fancy displays. Their goods are colorful all by themselves.  Who really cares whether a dress hangs in a setting that looks like the inside of the Taj Mahal?  Or whether we sit on real-leather sofas to try on shoes?  Maybe if retailers figured out a way to show their wares more simply, they could charge lots less. Simple can be elegant, too.

Bazaar merchants don’t have ad budgets. They pitch their products right in the market. Store buyers might actually sell more clothes if they personally talked to customers on the sales floor. Their e-commerce sites would benefit, too, if they produced short videos of themselves promoting the products they love.

Retailers like Ikea and Costco do so well because they’re more concerned with value than with splash. They already look like Bazaars and their prices are so good, we don’t even need to bargain.

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2 Responses to “Have I got a deal for you!”

  1. Helen Poore says:

    The reason Costco and Ikea do so well is volume. Being a small business owner of a retail store I can tell you that it is getting harder to compete with the big box stores. My suggestions? Shop local, shop independently owned stores in your community, because 60% of your purchase stays in your community. We are the ones supporting your charities, schools, non profit organizations. And I can tell you that my mark up is no where near 3x my cost.

  2. Toby Wollin says:

    Part of the issue is ‘specialness’ — everything in our mega-stores has been so ‘commodified’ that the only thing that counts is the price. No one cares about quality or value or uniqueness or anything else. When deep down, we know that the designer sweater was made on the same knitting machine that makes the sweaters for Target, has been sewn together on the same sewing machines by the same operators who are doing sweaters for Target, etc., what’s the point?


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