Kadıköy Tuesday Market: Fake Louis Vuitton Bag for 200 kg of Leeks

Istanbul Food Markets

Kadikoy Tuesday Market

You know my excitement about Kadıköy market which I regard as the best food market of Istanbul. But here is the news – there is another thrilling place to shop in the area with the limited window of opportunity. That window being Tuesday. Not sure what took me so long to visit the Kadikoy Tuesday Market (Kadıköy Salı Pazarı), a gigantic open-air marketplace dragging the housewives of the broader Kadıköy area for food and clothes shopping. My sally a few weeks ago was nothing like I have experienced before in Istanbul.

In Turkey you find two types of markets. One is a commercial quarter with small stores lined up along the narrow lanes. This is where you can get things done. Repair a watch, apply for mortgage at a branch of a major bank, get a haircut, find matching shoes and accessories for the newly bought dress, get your papers notarized and shop for groceries. More than a mere marketplace such markets (called çarşi in Turkish) are the centers of the neighborhoods: this is the place you invariably pass by or you meet old friends to catch up.

As far as the food is concerned specialized stores at such markets may not boast the convenience of a supermarket but then offer highest quality of a carefully sourced product. At the regular Kadıköy market I make at least 7 stops on a given shopping trip: fresh fish from my fish monger, minced meat from a butcher, fresh kaymak (Turkish clotted cream) from the dairy specialist, vegetables from my greengrocer, fresh yufka (Turkish phyllo dough) from a store that specializes on the home-made items, grains and legumes at another specialist and this is not to mention a spice vendor, Turkish delight specialist and baklava maker for the particular occasions. And this is not including the two kitchen utensils stores which I check now and then. And my favorite coffee shop to savor best Turkish coffee in Istanbul before jumping on a tram and getting back home for cooking. 2-3 hours passed with pleasure! Yet your commitment of time is generously repaid by the market vendors – they provide the most comfortable shopping environment ever. As your order is being prepared you are sipping tea and engaging in a friendly chat with the owner and then leaving the store with a few freebies, discount and smile.

Now while many established neighborhoods in Istanbul have their markets (Galata, Kadıköy, Eminönü, Fatih, Beşiktaş) many also have weekly markets held at a specially allocated space where you can hunt for great deals in food, household products and clothes. The vendors of those are the nomads of trade: they do not have any retail presence besides the stalls at the weekly markets and roam from a neighbourhood to neighborhood (and sometimes from a town to town) – Tuesday to Kadıköy, Wednesday to Fatih, Saturday to Besiktas and so on. Because they don’t need to maintain physical stores which reduces their cost significantly they are able to offer rockbottom prices. So fantasizing of those I headed out to the Kadıköy Tuesday Market.

Kadıköy Tuesday Market Kadıköy Tuesday Market

I arrived in the afternoon when many shoppers were already leaving the market with the sense of accomplished mission and 3-4 bags in each hand. The closer I was getting to the entrance the harder it was to grope through the crowd of the leaving. I felt I was late and the ladies had probably devastated the stalls already. I was relieved as I entered: there was plenty to see and buy – the market looked like a bottomless horn of plenty. And like a flashback: I was again 14 years old taken by my mom or grandma to shop for the new season’s clothes. One and half decade back in Russia this was the only way to shop for clothes: to get on one of those open air weekend markets where the products were brought from Turkey and China. Along with the products brought were the Asian approach to trading – large stalls serving both as storage and a display, cries of the vendors to attract your attention and determination of the shoppers to spend the whole walking around and haggling over a good deal.

The Kadıköy Tuesday Market was no different. Take that stall – size of a small store – with the male underwear organized in the neat piles. For only 5 TL you become a proud owner of seamless boxers and – what a luck! – eventually you can chose solely based on your brand preferences (Bjorn Borg, Armani or Calvin Klein) because they have the same price and look. Then even larger stall with hundreds of t-shirts piled up: you should dig it to strike the gold or a cool branded print for 3.5 TL.

After the t-shirts I moved to the busy stall where a dozen of well dressed ladies were inspecting fake Prada, LV and Gucci bags. I took vivid interest in one, lifted it to examine and inquired the price. “60 TL”, replied the stall owner. “It is not leather, is that not?” I attempted to initiate the haggling. “I have a leather one too“, he was quick to respond.”It’s the exact copy, including the serial number” He picked up a package from under the stall and proudly presented a well done bag. “200 TL“, he announced after demonstrating all the features. Thankfully right then I recalled the fake Gucci scarf I bought from the Grand Bazaar for the heck of it and never wore. So I put down the bag and headed out to the produce stalls.

Kadıköy Tuesday Market Kadıköy Tuesday Market

The fakes and export rejected apparel and bags mystically neighbor with the highest quality seasonal produce coming in the fairytalish sizes. Leeks come in a child’s hight. Chard leaves could be used as large fans. Cabbages may pass as the weights for heavy lifters. Pumpkins could easily become a Cinderella carriage and are cut with a saw. When I was choosing one the seller asked me if I needed it peeled and I wondered if anyone declined the offer and ventured to deal with the tree-bark-thick rind at home.

It was time to hide the camera and start shopping. With the price so low, bunches so huge and opportunity to pick up your own from a pile I stuffed my shopping trolley like a fat fat dolma thinking how much it would heart to pay 2-6 more for the same at my greengrocer at the Kadıköy market.

Yet as opposed to my “native” Kadıköy market where I am treated as “mahalle kızı” (local girl) I was a foreigner here. And so was everybody. I did not see any single pleasantry exchanged between the sellers and the shoppers so typical for the smaller markets I go to. Kadıköy Tuesday Market was a perfect venue for a primal shopping, mere buy-sell stripped down of all the complexities. Vendors don’t care to be polite or accommodating because their irresistible deals give them the confidence you will shop from them. The shoppers don’t bother to be polite either – neither to the vendors nor to the fellow shoppers: you elbow to pick up the firmest tomatoes, you push as you get through the stalls. As if someone fired a gun at the start you rush ahead to be the first in the shopping marathon. You lest your instincts speak: they make you throw yourself in a crowd and quickly fill in your shopping trolley as you devastate the stalls. Then you emerge at the exit as a winner – exhausted but fulfilled. You did not get the LV bag but the leeks you bought are the deal of the year.

Kadıköy Tuesday Market Kadıköy Tuesday Market

 

Directions to the Kadıköy Tuesday Market: From Kadıköy ferry pier take a metro to Ünalan; or metrobus to Uzunçayır. Both from stops you will be able to follow a line of shoppers heading to the market. The marketplace is signified by the gates with yellow writing “Kadıköy Kent Meyhanı’.

Timing: Tuesday, 9:00 am-8:00 pm. Best get there before noon. Nothing to do after the dark: most of the stalls are dimly lit so it will be very hard to choose the produce; forget buying clothes after the nightfall – most of the vendors will be packed and good to go by then.
Tips: Come with a shopping trolley otherwise the market remains the feast for your eyes only (unless that was the purpose).
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{ 11 comments… add one }

  • anamarija February 18, 2013, 6:30 pm

    Hello,

    thank you for all the wonderful insight you provide on your blog. Could you please tell me which two ustensil shops you are referring to here? I am really passionate about cooking and I am going to Istanbul on Friday so I would really like to go to the shops you are mentioning. If I had more than two days, I would definitely book a tour with you. Thanks in advance and keep up the great work!

    Reply
    • Olga Tikhonova Irez February 19, 2013, 1:55 am

      Anamarija, I’ve mentioned here kitchen utensil stores in Kadıköy, on the Asia side of Istanbul where you probably would not have time to go to if short time in Istanbul. You may want to have a look at my post on Turkish cooking utensils to get an idea what to look for and where. Hope that helps!

      Reply
      • anamarija February 19, 2013, 12:07 pm

        Thank you so much! :) I am relly looking forward to this trip.

        Reply
  • Madeleine Morrow June 1, 2013, 4:59 pm

    Just back from Istanbul. Went over to Kadikoy on Tuesday and spent an hour walking to find the market which we were told was near the Fenabache stadium. Couldn’t find it. Just wish I had come across your blog with directions before we went!!! Never mind, we did visit the daily market and had an outstanding lunch at Ciya. Also loved Locanta Maya. Lovely to find your blog now. Flooded with the sights and sounds of a fascinating city.

    Reply
  • bergamot August 3, 2013, 11:59 am

    Planning to visit Istanbul towards end of August. Will be there on a Saturday, Sunday & Monday. Is there a local market that I can visit? Your blog gave me a lot of inputs on where to shop for spices and herbs and not to get lost in Spice Market. I am going to head straight to the shops you mentioned.

    Reply
    • Olga Tikhonova Irez August 3, 2013, 6:54 pm

      Sunday has two great markets: Black Sea farmers’ Inebolu market about which I wrote here and here and not so far from it – big and wild weekly market at Tarlabaşi. On Saturday there is a big market in Beşiktaş and organic market in Şişli. Happy marketing in Istanbul!

      Reply
  • James January 9, 2014, 3:52 am

    Can you tell me which is the best market in istambull to get cheap knockoffs but super quality?

    Thanks
    I just love you blog

    Reply
    • Olga Tikhonova Irez January 10, 2014, 6:36 pm

      From my experience of living in India and Turkey, two super-powers that produce a lot of stuff for export (hence have a big internal market for export-rejected goods + assorted fakes): cheap and quality never come together. If you did not notice the faults at spot, you surely will when you start using the item.

      Reply
  • Sarala naidu February 27, 2014, 2:24 pm

    Dear Olga,
    My daughters planning to go le cordon blue in Paris and was interested to read about your blog about Istanbul and your friend who did her course in London . My spouse and I visited Istanbul in 2012 and visited a lot of farmers market and really enjoyed shopping there. We loved eating baklavas and ice creams and desserts from Mado and Haci bekr . If only I had read your blogs earlier I would have loved to go on the food trial with you. I simply fell in love with the mezze of vegetables that they serve in restaurants . I live in Bangalore , India and the cotton clothes are of great quality Olga . You mentioned that you lived in India , where exactly . We fell in love with Turkey and would love to visit again . A big hi to your mom and was a pleasure reading , keep posting , take care. Sarala

    Reply
  • Rachel Batres July 7, 2014, 6:31 am

    You might want to warn tourists that these markets are known for pickpockets and that they should be extra cautious. I have lived in Turkey and speak Turkish, but while I was enjoying the market my wallet and passport was stolen from my bag.

    Reply
    • Olga Tikhonova Irez July 25, 2014, 5:39 pm

      Good point, Rachel: worth watching your bag in all the crowded places in Istanbul.

      Reply

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