My Turkish Carpet
May 2, 2006
After walking through the Grand Bazaar in Istanbul, one thing became clear to me. Buying a carpet was just going to be far
more of a hassle for me than it was worth. People aren’t lying when they say there are carpet vendors everywhere. And I
know that the bargaining process is…well…a process. Even though the one splurge I wanted to make while I was on my trip
was a Turkish rug, I realized that I didn’t want to put hours into making a deal. Nor did I want to put hours into feeling
pressured to buy something. I told Cindy after we left the Grand Bazaar, “Okay, I’m not getting a carpet. There are too many
other things to do here and I don’t want to spend that much time and effort.”
This was all until last night in Pamukkale…
While we were eating dinner at the house that we were staying at, we were chatting with one of the friends of the owners. We
talked for a while and then he asked if we had bought any carpets yet. I told him that while I was originally planning to, I had
decided not to. He told us of a friend in a village in the hills who sells carpets out of his home. He also told us how in Istanbul,
they mark them up so much because of renting space and knowing how many tourists there are. He caught me at a very
trusting and naïve moment. I asked, “Can we go there tomorrow?” Even though it was 10pm, he said “Well, we can go now.”
So off we went into the Turkish hills in search of a carpet. He told us there was no pressure to buy (as I said…he caught me at
a naïve moment and I believed this). We got there around 10:30pm and even though we just showed up with no
forewarning, the entire family came out to meet us. The grandma was not taking handshakes from us. Instead we were
greeted with kisses on both cheeks from her.
We then moved into the room where the carpets were. We watched one of the ladies make a kilim – something that looks like
a carpet but much, much cheaper (I wasn’t a fan at all). Then I found the style of rug I love. The style is called ‘Keyseri’
because of the region in which it is made. It was 'Keyseri or bust' for me at this point. These rugs are double-knotted wool
made with natural dyes (which means the colors will never bleed together). We were served tea and then negotiations began.
My skills were very weak simply because I didn’t have the energy for a long drawn-out process. I had Adam (the guy who
took us there) do most of the calculator exchanges. While the carpet was first quoted at 1540 YTL, Adam told me not to pay
over 1000 YTL. After starting low, this is finally what we negotiated upon. It ends up being about 800 USD. And with a
handshake, it was a done deal at 11:30pm. He would come by the house tomorrow, pick me up to take me to the bank to pull
out the funds and then we would send it off.
Well, I was told the night before that the shipping via UPS would be about 60 USD or so since I was going to have it shipped
the slow way. After having my carpet boxed up and ready to go, they told me the shipping would be 200 USD. This is the
equivalent to approximately 6 nights of hotel accommodations. I could not justify this. Cindy then offered to take it back to
London with her and then have it shipped back to the U.S. with the rest of her stuff when she moves back home. After
making sure that this would be okay with her, I agreed to this solution.
In the meantime, I’m going to lug this 9 kg. of double-knotted wool with me to Capadoccia and then back to Istanbul...
A satisfied customer.