Istanbul is famous for rugs – that’s good. It is also famous for those who sell rugs – that’s, well, not so good. You can either take our word for it, or go out on your own and find out the hard way.
Mustafa, the owner of Troy Rug Shop, is the only carpet salesman we’ve met who got into the business for a genuine love of people and of rugs. Almost all the others (and trust me you know when you spend months in Istanbul) are motivated by the profit to be had and, accordingly, see tourists as walking and talking pieces of money. Their goal is to ensure that that money becomes theirs, and they will go to any degree of “friendship” to do so. Don’t fall for phrases like “O, Canada! My brother lives in Miami!” or, in a Turkish bath reference, “money is like skin, you can wash it off, but it will always come back”.
The moment you walk into Mustafa’s shop you will feel like you’re at home. And he will treat you accordingly. Mustafa is truly interested in you and your family on a human-to-human level. He enjoys hearing your stories and, believe us, you will enjoy hearing his. He is just as happy having a good conversation with somebody as he is when somebody buys a rug. Not once will you feel pressured into purchasing a rug, but you should be open to letting Mustafa talk to you about his passion; he knows all there is to know about rugs and he loves sharing his knowledge. By the time you get up to leave you may not have a rug in hand, but I can guarantee you that you will have multiple cups of tea in your stomach and you most definitely will have made a new friend in Istanbul – there is a reason why so much of his business is through return clientele.
When I first met Mustafa, he told me that he has worked every single day for the last 8 years. I remember laughing it off. “This must be some sort of play to guilt-trip tourists into purchasing rugs they otherwise wouldn’t”, I thought to myself. I can’t believe how wrong I was.
If so much as the slightest prospect of intentional deception entered Mustafa’s head, I think that he would punish himself by not having tea for an entire day – something unheard of in this tea-loving country. He is simply too honest, too conscionable and too modest to ever even entertain the idea of telling a lie. But still, I couldn’t understand why he insisted on working every single day of his life for the past 8 years. Finally, after a few more visits, the answer dawned upon me. He is so passionate about the well-being of people, and he is such a believer that rugs may be the most important purchase that somebody may ever make, that he simply cannot risk not being around to help that person make their purchase. He considers it his duty to ensure that they are getting the highest quality rug at the best possible price. The thought of somebody going to his shop, finding it closed, and then proceeding to go to another shop just kills him. Not for a loss of profit on his side, but for a loss of satisfaction on the customer’s side.
If you are looking for great carpets and rugs for an fantastic prices, do yourself a favor and pay Mustafa a visit. Whether it is a rug or a new friend, we guarantee that you will leave with something honest.