The New Canal Street: American Flea Markets

January 7, 2011 § Leave a comment

Everyone knows that you can find fakes on Canal Street in New York City, but more recently a surge of counterfeits have been reported in flea markets across the country. It is nothing new to anti-counterfeiting organizations and law enforcement that you can find counterfeit clothes, beauty products or other accessories at these markets. With counterfeits becoming more predominant at flea market vendors, authorities have launched a nationwide crackdown on those that sell fakes.

According to a recent USA Today article, in December alone, customs agents seized $250,000 worth of items at a swap-meet in New Orleans, $350,000 worth of goods at a flea market in Las Vegas, and $150,000 worth of merchandise at another flea market in Solebury, PA.

(Photo of counterfeit goods taken from USA Today article)

There are angry shoppers who report counterfeit items once they realize they have been duped, but many flea market attendees don’t care that they are buying counterfeits. During the Philly raid at the Rice Market, one shopper told The Intelligencer, “Most people know, but who cares?” Another woman was quoted saying, “I think Homeland Security can find better things to do.”

Counterfeiting is not a victimless crime. We talk a lot about child labor and sweatshops that sew the counterfeit clothes and handbags or copy the counterfeit CDs and DVDs, but consumers can be victims as well. Fake beauty products contain chemicals that don’t abide by health and safety standards. Faux fragrance often contain bacteria, urine and antifreeze. Counterfeit clothes can even be made with toxic dyes. All of these pose a serious risk to a shopper’s health. Think about the friends and family you could be harming if you give these products to someone as a gift.

The next time you are at a flea market and you spot a counterfeit, think about what your purchase is funding. Above all, if you spot a fake, report it to local law enforcement authorities.

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