Thursday, February 28, 2008

Lady! Handbag? Handbag? Purse? Purse?

From yesterday's AM New York:

By Lauren Johnston

Just hours after the NYPD seized more than $1 million in counterfeit goods in Chinatown Tuesday, merchants were back on the street peddling the knock-off designer purses and high-end watches that attract swarms of shoppers each week.

"Rolexes, Rolexes half price," the unfazed hawkers murmured at passersby Tuesday at 1:30 p.m. with officers just out of earshot.

"Are you shopping today, sweetie?" one vendor asked a reporter. "I've got watches and purses. Only Louie (Vuitton) today. You see they closed it down today – one, two, three, four," he said pointing across Canal Street at the shuttered shops .

"I can give you Louis Vuitton right now," said another peddler, smiling as he tapped a plywood crate in front his padlocked store.

The bogus bags were ready for sale – including a $250 knock off of the designer's $1,900 dog carrier.

Bargain hunters also remained undaunted.

"As long as they aren't selling stolen bags I don't see anything wrong with it," said Kim Bowman, a North Carolina tourist.

"I'm shopping for a teenager, so I'm not going to spend $1,000 on a watch," said another shopper who refused to give his name.

For years police periodically have swooped down on the so-called Counterfeit Triangle – the area ringed by Walker, Canal and Center streets.

"When they come down and take your merchandise, that's a low blow. They're taking your business away," said another seller.

That's also the argument that officials and designers make against these illegal vendors.

"Counterfeit goods cheat the city, consumers, legitimate business owners, and trademark holders and their proliferation is standing in the way of the revitalization of Chinatown," Mayor Michael Bloomberg said at a news conference.

A two-month investigation culminated with Tuesday's raid in which NYPD officers confiscated fake Coach, Gucci, Dolce & Gabbana, Dior, Prada, Rolex, Fendi and Burberry items, said Police Commissioner Raymond Kelly, adding that no arrests were made.

The city also won a temporary restraining order to shutter 32 illegal stores. The owners must pay steep fines and replace each property with a legitimate business before they can reopen, city officials said.

Since 2003 authorities have shut down 23 knock-off locations, seized $60 million in fake goods and collected $1.5 million in fines from counterfeiters, according to City Hall.

Tuesday's sting earned kudos from Rolex, which thanked the city for "recognizing the pervasive crime of trademark counterfeiting and stepping up to the plate."

The merchants, however, vowed that a fresh supply of Coach and Prada goods would be available Wednesday.

"Sometimes you make, sometimes you lose. That's the business, it's a business," one said with a smile.
Guess I'll stick with my ultimate brandname: Target (say it Frenchlike and it sounds even better)


Laurie said...

Love my Target purse too! I did buy a fake Prada on the streets of Chicago several years ago and it says, made in Milano. Isn't that a cookie not a city? ;)

Triplet Mom said...

I'm so cheap, I bought a fake Prada purse at a second-hand store! Now that's a deal!

edejong said...

Funny, I just went to a purse party last night! I had my pick of Prada, Gucci, Kate, etc. I opted for some new sun glasses!

I will be praying for you on Sunday night.