The shops in the centre of Side are crammed into three main streets heading towards the harbour and if you give then even a cursory glance the vendors are out trying to get you into the shop. My wife finds this a little intimidating as they don’t seem to understand the concept of "just looking", whereas I feel it’s a tad more than mildly annoying. If only they realised that many of us might actually visit their stores and make impulse purchases if they kept their heads down and smiled welcomingly at us once we’d crossed the threshold.
You’ll find all manner of shops in Side many of which you can guarantee you’ll see just around the next corner. So shops selling T-shirts, casual gents shirts, sportswear, shoes, and spices are plentiful and prices will all be about the same (depending on your bartering skills).
There are a couple of carpet shops and they are very clever at pulling you in to their shop. Mind you if you fancy a cup of refreshing apple tea or a Turkish coffee and a sit down in an air-conditioned environment then you might be tempted. We were on both occasions and I was surprised at how little pressure came from the salesman. Of course both of them tried to create an interest in a purchase of a rug but once they knew that we weren’t really interested they backed off and just had a general chat about Turkey, England and holidays. In fairness we had purchased on a previous holiday in both Turkey and India but I was a little surprised at how prices seem to have escalated over the last few years.
The other shops that are happy to talk with you are the ones selling leather jackets and coats. I was mildly interested in a leather jacket having bought one in Morocco a few years ago, so had a serious look at some of the shops. Once again I was surprised at the pricing as even after a gentle negotiation they were coming in at over £300. A bit of a jump from the £90 I paid in Morocco! Needless to say I didn’t bother and I was pleased that the salesmen were not pushy or too persistent. Although you do have to "weather the storm" when they recognise you on subsequent nights and try to entice you back into their shop.
There were spice shops in abundance. Most had very elaborate displays and no prices of the individual spices. We did like looking but always felt (rightly or wrongly) that it would be better buying in the market where the locals shop. That’s what we did, but judging by the number of spice shops in Side town many tourists must buy here.
One of the specialities of the town was, apparently, chess boards and backgammon sets. We didn’t see evidence of mass numbers of shops selling these items but the ones that did seemed to have quality produce. It was the same with items carved out of meerschaum – not mass produced and only a few specialist stalls selling the produce.
Even if you’re not buying from the shops in Side its worth strolling the streets to take in the atmosphere as there is a real bustle about the place and it is not at all intimidating.