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Jaffa Flea Market (Souk Sala-hi)

ИзраильТель-Авивтекст2

The Flea Market area was formerly known as Souk Sala'hi after the family that owned it. It was one of many such markets and bazaars which surrounded the Clock Tower Square from the 19th century onward. 

After 1948, this market gradually took on the form of a "flea market" in the Oriental tradition, where one can buy and sell objects old and new, spending many pleasant hours in bargaining - a practice much more important than the transaction itself. 

Start by treating yourself to a fresh-from-the-oven pita at the famous Palestinian Aboulafia Bakery, walk up the street, and turn left. You will have no doubt that you are approaching the Jaffa Flea Market and soon find yourself at a row of shops primarily featuring oriental rugs and, more likely than not, at least one cluster of people huddled over a backgammon board [shesh-besh, from the Persian and the origin of the game]. The market extends along this street and those going off to the left. A series of left turns will eventually bring you back to Yefet St. 

The entire area is colorful, fun, and provides an interesting glimpse at some of the segments which make up the Jaffa society, from recent immigrants selling used household goods arrayed on the pavements to shop owners offering a wide array of merchandise, both old and new. There are some excellent-quality items to be found here, such as the rugs, and no small amount of junk. It is a place for bargaining over prices, so knowing the psychology of it is helpful. Have no doubt but that the sellers have a keen appreciation of the value and quality of their inventories. If the shopper is knowledgeable, though, there are some good buys to be had (such as in rugs and some collectibles). 

A quick lesson in bargaining, Middle-Eastern style: The seller will throw out a price, thereby establishing a point of reference. Even if you think it's reasonable, you refuse. He then asks what you're willing to pay. 

"If he said 100 shekels, I can't very well insult him and say 30." But, you can -- and should, if not even a lower figure. Or, you might shrug and say you're not really all that interested -- certainly not for anything higher than x amount. Shrug again and start walking away. If he yells after you with another offer, consider it; either accept or make a counter-offer. Eventually, if he doesn't yell after you, you'll know your offer is under the threshold he considers realistic. 

Even if you don't buy a thing in the entire market area, it's great fun to poke around. Those who are not concerned about packing bulky items will find some beautiful copperware, here. Note that there are two arcades which are worth seeking out, but take note of the fact that a lot of the items within them (clothing, earrings, and the like) are imported from India and the Far East. 

The morning, particularly in the early part of the week, is the best time to visit for serious bargain hunting. Many of the vendors have a superstition about making the first sale of the day or week to get them off to a good start, referring to it by the Arabic word "Istiftah". Like so many other places, it's not the deal you made, but the deal you think you made. So, some vendors will use the Istiftah concept to make you feel their loss is your gain. Still, the flea market is more about fun than caution and well worth the visit. 

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