A Non-Touristic Approach to Shopping in Greece

  1. Always mention this guide. It helps shops and artists, particularly, to know you have seen samples of their work or product. It sets you apart from the other tourists.
  2. Make contact. A good thing to do before visiting an artist in Greece is to call or email them ahead of time to let them know you are coming to visit. Don’t be afraid to do this. Many artists work their own hours and need some warning of visitors, especially ones who prefer to prepare a special presentation for each customer. Many speak English, but if you find yourself in a language pickle, perhaps a friend or the clerk at your hotel will call for you. Emails are great if you have your itinerary planned out, you would be smart to let the artists know when you expect to be in the area before you leave on your trip. All possible contact information is available for each artist or location on this site. If you cannot reach the artists to let them know you are coming, just going to the studio or shop is generally OK. The artists who onle meet by apointment are specified as so on their web page. On the whole, the artists work long hours and you will at least get a chance to see the work. Although there may be someone other than the artist in the shop, you will still be able to take advantage of the occasion by mentioning this site.

    Calling Greece from outside of Greece (011) (30) + area code (210 for Athens) and number.

    Calling from within Greece area code (even when calling the city you are in) + number.

    If you are planning your itinerary while in Greece through Fantasy Travel, you can ask them to arrange these appointments for you ahead of time.

  3. Don’t rush. Give yourself plenty of time to spend with the artist. Some may be more chatty than others. Sometimes these encounters can lead to long evenings of conversation. Greeks love to offer refreshments and visit with you before getting down to business. Although it’s not always the case, we once visited an artist couple for a demonstration and they sent me to a nearby hotel with two local bottles of wine, fresh bread, and two blocks of cheese. Enjoy these experiences for all they are worth. Making friends and learning from the artist about their work and Greece in general is part of the fun. Greeks are typically much slower at doing business than we are accustomed to in the States. You will find they like to get to know you first and may offer you something to drink and a place to sit before even mentioning their work. Don’t expect a quick in and out visit at every place. In most cases, visiting 3-4 artists in a day can be a very very full day.
  4. Enjoy the journey. If you like the area you are in, ask the artist for referrals to other places, sites, and artists you may like to visit while you are there. They are proud and love to share their villages and friends with you, if you show an interest.
  5. Don’t bargain. These are established artists who have already agreed to offer special prices to visitors who come from this site and deserve the respect of the buyer. Unless you are in an outdoor market environment where you are dealing with an owner or plan on buying many of one thing shopping is generally like the U.S. and prices are as marked. If you really love something by a particular artist you are visiting with in person and it is too expensive, just express this. The fact that you connect with what an artists is doing and truly appreciate their work will open the conversation up to negotiations.
  6. Hitting the sales. In Greece, sales are only allowed twice a year during a specific time period where all shops are allowed to discount their merchandise. Because the shops must wait for these sales, there are fabulous deals on merchandise during these periods. The mark downs are up to 70% off at most stores. They are in held in February and August.
  7. Shop hours. Shops are generally open from 8:00am to 2:30pm on Monday, Wednesday, and Friday. Tuesday, Thursday and Saturday from 8:00am to 2:30pm and from 5:30-8:00pm. Most shops are closed on Sunday. If you are visiting an artist at their studio, these hours don’t necessarily apply. You are best off contacting them ahead of time to let them know when you would like to visit. Avoid trying to make appointments on Greek holidays. It may be more difficult to set up a time during the time surrounding Christmas and Easter. Greeks tend to take a fews off before and after to visit their villages or homes away from the city. August is also a time when Greeks generally go on a holiday that could last up to the entire month. Again, artists who work on their own may be more flexible than shops and happy to meet you at your leisure. As a side note, the banks are generally open from 8:00am to 2:30pm Monday through Friday and until only 12:00pm on Saturday. Bank Hours: Mon-Thu- 8-2:30, Friday 8-2, Closed on Weekends
  8. Use Euros or credit cards. Many Greek shops will charge you extra when using a credit card, because it means they must report the income and there are taxes they cannot avoid. With cash, you will get the best price and avoid additional charges. Don’t try to use dollars or other foreign currency. This can be done in an emergency, but getting the daily exchange rates and making the conversion is a hassle most vendors prefer to avoid.
  9. Be reasonable. Most Greeks will gladly go out of their way to get you exactly what you want, but Greece does not have the resources as readily available as the U.S. to make these special requests so easy to fill. Be considerate of their efforts, respect their situation, and be flexible, if possible.
  10. Don’t get offended. Greeks are great at multi-tasking. They are used to handling many things at once. If you are visiting an artist personally, you may find that interruptions are not always put off just because company is present, but you will be surprised at how smoothly a Greek can pick up exactly where you had left off not missing a beat as if nothing ever happened.
  11. Compliments are welcome. If you are not intending to purchase from an artist or find their work to be of a taste other than your own, that’s OK. You can share some thoughts with the artists. They typically welcome open and inspiring conversation, but do not be an “ugly tourist” and insult their tireless work in any way. Artists are very accepting of an honest opinion and prefer an admiring, happy customer to a lukewarm, regretful one any day.

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