The Maasai Market
The Maasai Market is a modern display of an indigenous people’s culture. It sells African artefacts and has become a convergence zone for various kinds of people, including tourists, in search of ‘authentic’ African souvenirs.
Maasai Market Empowerment Trust (MMET)
The Maasai Market Empowerment Trust (MMET), an NGO for artisans at the Maasai Market and other parts of the country, seeks to inform, educate and empower artisans and handicraft makers on intellectual property and protect their creations and inventions through patenting and trade marking. Seminars, campaigns, workshops and other awareness programmes have been used to do this.
The trust also hopes to give financial help to members to expand their businesses. The trust organized an intellectual property rights campaign to agitate for the return of the kiondo (basket), kikoi and other Kenyan innovations that have been patented elsewhere, to their rightful owners.
The market is open several days a week at different locations in Nairobi. The sector has attracted private individuals to open up shop in various towns, mostly tourist destinations. The Maasai sculpture is one of the most famous art works that depicts the culture of the community.
Maasai Market Products
Among the things to find include wooden sculptures, beaded necklaces, batik wall hangings, shoes, soap stone carvings, sisal bags, kikois, textiles to mention but a few.
Maasai Market Open Days – Maasai Market Schedule
- Fridays: Upper Car Park at the Village Market in Gigiri and Langinton Mall
- Saturday and Sunday: High Court Parking, City Square Down Town Nairobi city Center opposite Re-Insurance Plaza and Prestige Plaza along Ngong road
- Sunday: Car Park Outside the Yaya Shopping Centre
- Tuesday: Prestige Plaza along Ngong Road
- Wednesday: Capital Center along Mombasa road
- Thursday: The junction Mall and along Ngong road
Shopping Tips at Maasai Market Nairobi
- Be specific on quality. Don’t buy an item if its finishing has not been properly done. Instead, look for a seller who has perfected the quality of the item. This is more so for items like wall hangings, ornaments or kitchenware.
- Be the typical Kenyan even if you are a foreigner. Haggle till you run the seller out of breath. Kenyans have perfected the art of haggling. This is how;-
- Identify the item you want. Don’t ask for the cost of an item before you have made up your mind that you want it. This also applies to other markets such as Gikomba, Toi Market and the street vendors.
- Take a walk around the market first before settling on what to buy. As you walk identify the artisan who is more creative in their use of colours, function, and cheaper in cost and consider your preference.
- Understand the purchase terms properly. The purchase terms will determine whether you will be given the cost in Dollars or using the dollar as the exchange rate. It will also determine how much markup the sellers will increase. On the other hand, a foreigner can get a local friend or guide to take them and negotiate on their behalf.
- It is important for foreigner not to allow to be guided by the traders found at the market. This is because there are some self -appointed guides in the market who will seem like they are doing you good offering to show you the best items, asking what you are looking for and trying to engage in small talk. Be very weary of them, they will get a commission from you then proceed to extort any artisan you bought from or worse, they could be trying to con you.
- Make sure you have changed your money into Kenyan Shillings before proceeding to Maasai market.
- Refrain from buying common tourist items such as Safari Hats, & Safari T-Shirts. They will be costing an arm and a leg. Get something else that still says you were in ‘Africa’.
- Engage the artisan and find out if they are the ones who made the item. These artisans at Maasai market like to talk about their work and being appreciated. As a result chances are, you will end up getting a discount.
- The markets at Kijabe Street and the High court parking have the best rates as they are perceived to be for locals as opposed to those in up-market venues such as malls. This is despite the fact that the items and the traders are the same in all these markets.
Bargaining Tips for the best rate
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After walking around the market, noting the traders with the items you want, you can now proceed to buying the item. Haggling is part of our culture as locals so be ready to engage in some back and forth. Here are some tips on how to bargain for the best prices.
- Ask for the cost of the item casually
- Upon hearing the cost of the item, act shocked
- Tell the seller that you have half of that amount
- Go ahead and tell the seller that’s the only amount you have and you were actually looking for something else
- If the trader is unyielding on their rates, start moving to another trader and chances are, they will not let you go to that other trader
- After negotiating with the trader, you can offer to add something little above your stated amount and the deal will have been sealed.
Maasai Market Online
The Maasai Market is also available online Click Here!
Maasai Market Nairobi – Video