I often get inquiries from prospective customers who are about to visit Israel and would like to drop by my shop to buy a tallit. While it’s always easier to see and feel the tallit before you buy, if they think buying a tallit during their visit to Israel will save them money, they’re wrong.
The reason is taxes. When I sell a tallit to a customer in Israel, I have to charge 17% value-added tax. That means if they buy tallit for $100, $17 goes straight to the government. But when a customer outside of Israel opts to buy a tallit from me, I list the shipment on the export registry, which exempts me from VAT altogether. And I can pass that 17% savings on to my customers.
I once had a customer who wanted to know what price I could give him if he buy tallit and came to pick it up himself. I explained that he would of course save the shipping costs, but that I could not discount it since it costs me more to sell it to him here than if he’s 2,000 miles away.
Buy Tallit in Israel, Ship to the U.S.
Likewise, shipping is not a significant expense. To encourage people to “buy blue and white” the Israeli government keeps international shipping rates very low. I charge a flat rate of just $9.50 to ship a tallit to the United States, Canada and Europe, and $11.50 to most other countries. If I’m not mistaken, it would cost more to send it via USPS from New York to California.
Of course many people would rather buy tallit from Israel not so much to save money, but to support Israel with their tallit purchase.
And since most of the leading tallit makers are located in Israel, it makes sense to buy a tallit from the source.