Shopping is different from abroad, and you really need to have a lot of patience to shop in Albania.
There are some things that no matter how long I stay in Albania, I just can’t get used to.
I am referring to the form of “bartering” for a decent price.
Most shops don’t have prices. You have to ask the shop keeper how much the article costs.
So, you want to buy a new pair of shoes. You ask how much they are and then you have to haggle the price down. That is something I have never been used to and still am not used to. It is far easier just paying the price they ask for!
I have an uncle in Scotland that gets discount on all his purchases, even though there is no sale price. He always seems to get a bargain by asking for money off. No doubt he would get on great in Albania!
Me, I am resigned to be embarrassed at asking for money off. I just don’t do it. I get the feeling that the shopkeepers are looking at me thinking to themselves, “ This guy is foreign, he must have lots of money!”, and then I should ask for a couple of pounds off the price!?
( If I did that, then they would be probably thinking, “ Typical Scotsman!”)
Another difficulty is in the cost of an item.
Albanians still speak in the old money. So they will tell you the price is 20,000 lek when it is really only 2,000lek. This can still be very confusing. Especially when buying something like a painting that you really do not know how to value!
Then another most frustrating problem is when you come to pay for the item.
At times, just as as you are paying, someone will eneter the shop and ask the shopkeeper the price of an item, and the shopkeeper will leave you and go and serve the other person. I mean, he is adding up your bill, and you have your money in your hand, and someone comes in and says…
“A kilo of cheese please” and the shopkeeper stops adding up your bill and starts serving the other person.
I am left pulling my hair out!
Once you have got past these problems, you get your weekly shopping in plastic bags that have the strength to hold no more than a bunch of grapes and you can head off home again!
If you have purchased a new pair of shoes, then be prepared to be asked about 100 times - Where did you buy them and how much did they cost you!
Sometimes I get stopped by complete strangers in the street asking me about something I am carrying and where I bought it, and how much it cost!
Then on return to the house you will be asked - how much did you pay for the tomatoes or peppers, and why you bought apples that are “soft” and “bruised”!
Shopping – it seems to be gift that men are never born with, and never learn!