Istanbul is the second largest city in Europe after Moscow with the population reaching 20 million people. The city is one of the oldest in the world and can boast the fact that it has the oldest retail complex in the world …. in fact the oldest and the second oldest! The Grand Bazaar or Kapali Carsi was built in 1455 during the Byzantine period in Turkey. It has seen floods, fires and earthquakes and survived them all. It is a covered market with 18 entrances that lead to narrow “hans” or streets. The market contains over 4,000 stall holders and is often noted as the worlds best bazaar. This was my first visit and the first thing you learn is to give yourself time, once you walk into the market you will soon find yourself lost and just keep wandering until you find one of the entrances and then hope you can work out where you are. The market has one of the most famous shops in the world located near the entrance. A historical tower or Chukur is situated in the market. It is made of wood with a copper dome. For two hundred years it was a pudding shop and the favourite place of Sultan Mahmut 11. It then had various retail functions, including being a police station until it was purchased by the jewellery company Boybeyi in 1970. They still trade for the shop and it must be one of the oldest shops in the world. Down the hill from the Bazaar is the Egyptian Spice Market, Misir Carsisi, this started trading in 1664. This is where you go to purchase your perishable retail products. What can we learn from the oldest retail complex? 1 – Retailers and especially markets often ask me if they should mix market stalls or put all the retailer’s together in a cluster that do the same thing. In this market they have always used cluster retailing. As a first time shopper to the markets a cluster system is so much easier and helped me find my way around. 2 – Pyramids do work in displays. These merchandisers have been merchandising and passing techniques through the generations for years. They have proved that pyramidal displays work. 3 – Use all the senses. The smells in this market are unbelievable, you can taste the Turkish Delight and the products are highly coloured and arranged in colour combinations .All the techniques a modern retailer needs to take on board. I will walk you around both markets in the April 2011 edition of our TV Show, plus show you ideas from the modern retailers of Istanbul. This is a shoppers heaven. One minute you can be experiencing retailing 15th century style and the next be in the future.