Ask Mehmet: The meaning of IVMA

  • Published
  • By Mehmet Birbiri
  • 39th Air Base Wing Public Affairs host nation advisor
Question: Mehmet, I have noticed that some shops in the Alley have a sticker on their doors or windows which reads "This shop is a member of IVMA." What does that mean? What is IVMA?

IVMA stands for Incirlik Village Merchants Association. About 100 shops in the Alley offer services to the American personnel on Incirlik Air Base. As you know, there are a variety of shops in the Alley, from carpet dealers to tailors, from jewelers to restaurants and discos, from copper dealers to frame and leather shops ... You can find almost everything you need there. The majority of the shops are members of IVMA. The association takes measures to bring solutions to problems in favor of the customers.

Parking is one of them. A parking lot in the Alley, marked by signs, is designated for the customers. Realizing the importance of security, IVMA works closely with the local Jandarma to maintain security in the alley. Jandarma patrols the Alley 24-hours a day. The president of IVMA, Abdulkerim Estetik says, "The American personnel at Incirlik are our main customers. They are our back bone. They are also the guests of our country; therefore, we should make them feel secure and comfortable here. All the shopkeepers here know each other very well. As part of the Turkish tradition, once a customer enters our shop he/she becomes our guest and we would like to show them Turkish hospitality in the best way."

Speaking of Turkish hospitality; while shopping in the Alley, you will be offered something to drink such as Turkish tea, coffee, water or soda pop. This is very customary. Turkish people are very friendly and hospitable. I highly recommend you to be suspicious if offered beer or other alcoholic beverages in a shop. Alcoholic beverages are normally not served to customers.

Walking around town with open containers of alcohol is considered to be extremely bad taste and is very likely to offend local citizens. People in this country generally stick to consuming alcohol in establishments or at events where it is appropriate to do so, and nowhere else. Additionally, it is illegal to walk around in public with open containers of alcohol.

Mr. Estetik stated that the association works close with the base leadership, the Incirlik Mayor's office and Jandarma. He added that they have a committee to address customer's complaints.

Any customer who has a complaint about any shop in the Alley could go to that committee or call Mr. Estetik at 332 8032. You can also fax your complaint to 332 8378. IVMA officials state that most of the problems are caused due to a misunderstanding.

Every member shop of IVMA has a sign in their windows, doors or inside the shop saying "THIS SHOP IS A MEMBER OF IVMA". These shops signed a letter to obey all the measures and decisions taken by IVMA and treat customers fairly.

The association banned its members from going out of the shop and pulling the arms of the customers into their shops. They say if anybody tries to pull you into their shop to sell something, do not go into that shop and let IVMA know about it. Also, feel free to wander in the Alley window shopping.

I want to draw your attention on two points: You may see men kissing and hugging, women kissing and hugging in the street. But you never see men kissing or hugging women in the street unless they are relatives or very close friends. Men kissing or hugging women in the street, in shop or in public is not normal. A shop keeper never kisses or hugs his female customer.

The second point is: When riding in a taxi in Turkey the customer normally sits in the back seat in a taxi. Female customers should definitely sit in the back seat. Sitting in the front seat could lead to different understandings by the driver, such as you wanting to be a friend and become closer to him.