Firenze leather markets are a must see. Every day, the vendors wheel in their wooden display carts (which I would imagine is a tough task considering the size of them) and display all their items in an extremely organized, but compact fashion. Each cart fits snug to one another, making room for a countless number of vendors surrounding the San Lorenzo Market.
Tourists typically flock to the leather markets, however today was exceptionally chilly so there weren’t many crowds.
My roommate, Lauren, modeling belts at the leather market.
A typical display put away for the day. These carts are wheeled out of the streets for the night to a destination I am unaware of.
Each vendor sells basically the same items – and right across from each other, which makes for intense business. Whether the vendor specializes in leather bags, belts, jackets, or clothing such as scarves, hats, and Firenze shirts, similar items can be found throughout the market. This makes it easier to barter with different salesmen in order to get the best price. Although they sometimes help each other sell items and seem to be friends, which had us a bit confused.
Scarves of wool, cotton, and “cashmere” displayed on this stand. Tried to barter for these, but they weren’t budging today.
Purses galore. Each stand had an impressive amount of these colorful handbags – all so cute and inexpensive.
Shirts, jerseys, sweatshirts, and everything Firenze.
A blogger perfectly describes how bartering/bargaining for items should play out. A couple of these tips that stood out to me were: know what you’re looking for, shop in groups and assign each person a role, make an offer strategically and know when to walk away. My roommates and I are far from perfecting these suggestions, but we hope to up our bargaining game by the end of our semester abroad.
Today, my five roommates and I woke up early and with a mission. Each of us looking to buy a leather bag, a couple of us wanted shoes, some needing scarves, and various other gift ideas. We set out around 10 a.m., which we soon found to be somewhat of a poor decision. Arriving at the leather market was immediately overwhelming. We had no idea where to start but dove in on one of the streets. Six American girls, walking through the empty streets of the market since it was just set up and we were most likely the first customers of the day. Almost every salesman stood in front of their display yelling anything and everything in attempt to get us to stop and look at their merchandise. For example, one salesman singled me out asking, “Don’t you remember me?” Every time we stared straight ahead pretending they didn’t exist – which was almost impossible. These guys are extremely good at their job, they would watch our eyes and trace our line of sight to the bag we were looking at, they then started to yell out prices and ask us to come take a closer look. All the tactics they used ultimately scared us away.
After strolling through the streets a few times, we gained the courage to go back in and approach the merchandise. I attempted to bargain for a few of the bags and get a feel for the prices being asked. Eventually, I came across a bag I really liked and managed to make a final purchase of €40 (symbol for the euro) for a purse originally marked at €90. Is it real leather? I don’t know, probably not. Was it the best deal? Maybe, maybe not. By 2 p.m. each one of us bought a leather bag, so all in all it was a successful day and good first experience in the leather market.