Canal Street and Mulberry Streets in Chinatown

Canal Street Counterfeits and Criminals

Woman on Canal Street in Chinatown in Manhattan.

Are her boots counterfeit or authentic? (Photo by JL)

Canal Street in Chinatown in Manhattan

Canal Street in Chinatown in Manhattan, N.Y. is where vendors sell couterfeit merchandise. (Photo by JL)

 

Child Labor

I was naïve the first time that I had shopped on Canal Street in Manhattan. I wasn’t aware that children, sometimes chained, made counterfeit purses in China and were paid a pittance. I also didn’t know that I would mingle with purse thieves, pickpockets, con men, con women, gang members, human traffickers, and counterfeiters wanted by Homeland Security.

Canal Street whirled with activity the day my daughter and I shopped for a faux-designer purse for her. Shoppers ducked in and out of stores haggling over prices for counterfeit designer merchandise: watches, bags, sunglasses, perfume, electronic equipment, jewelry, clothing and more. Everyone wanted a deal.

Two women stood in front of a merchandise-packed store and whispered to us, “Gucci, Gucci, Prada?” Why were they whispering? Were the police around?

My daughter said, “Coach.”

The women whisked us through the store between shabby curtains and down dirty basement steps. Gucci, Prada, Coach, Hermes, Channel, Louis Vuitton were a sampling of their counterfeit wares that loaded the room. Many of these bags sold on Canal Street for under $100, but if the bags were genuine, they would retail in the hundreds and some in the thousands. Luckily, my daughter couldn’t find what she wanted, and we left.

As we headed down the street, another vendor hustled us. I heard, “Channel? Loui Vuitton?”

My daughter said “Coach.”

 The woman said, “Follow me.”

She walked ahead of us for several blocks while talking on a walkie-talkie and approached a man and told us to follow him. We walked a few blocks, and he handed us off to another man. We followed him for several blocks, and he turned down an alley. I was concerned that they didn’t want us to recognize them, but now I was worried. I tried to get my daughter’s attention who was right on the man’s heels and didn’t seem to think twice about following him down an alley.

He approached a blue van, opened the hatch, and before I knew it, my daughter had climbed in the back. I imagined someone slamming the door, and the van taking off. I believe that I would’ve been too stunned to get the tag number.

Suppose they trafficked her?

“Get out of there now!” I said.

She reluctantly left the van. A man who had watched this scene approached and said that he was worried when he saw my daughter enter the truck because he knew that the police were surveilling the street for gangs who controlled the counterfeit, drug and human trafficking markets.

 How does counterfeiting work?

 Alice Hines in the Village Voice wrote about a 2012 case when a group of criminals purchased legitimate designer goods and shipped them to China. Months later,  counterfeit designer boots, purses, and coats arrived in the U.S.

Mills in China manufacture bags for less than $2 each and they sell them to distributors for $10 – $30. They ship them to the U.S. hidden among other merchandise, or they mislabel them. Street vendors sell them for $50 – $100 per item. Most vendors are impoverished, and some are homeless. They sell their wares on the streets from trash bags, suitcases, cars or vans, or from stores or warehouses. The higher-tier criminals can make millions.

Why Don’t They Arrest Them?

If caught, street vendors are arrested and fined, though they could get a year in prison, they often return to the streets. The maximum jail term is four years for counterfeit possession valued at $1,000 or more, and 15 years for $100,000. Also, it is not illegal for the customers to buy fakes.

Buyer Beware

Fake designer perfume seems to be the riskiest item for consumers because bottles may contain chemicals like antifreeze. In spring 2016, Homeland Security confiscated a shipment headed to retailers and online sites.

The best bet is to buy your merchandise from a reputable dealer or do without. That’s my plan.

 

Below are the links that I used for my article:

https://cityroom.blogs.nytimes.com/2008/02/26/city-raids-counterfeit-triangle-shutting-32-storefronts/?_r=0

https://www.nytimes.com/2016/11/21/nyregion/counterfeiting-trade-settles-into-a-new-york-standby-self-storage-units.html

http://www.villagevoice.com/news/knockoff-another-day-at-the-office-on-canal-street-with-counterfeit-vendors-8626379

http://abc7ny.com/news/counterfeit-purfume-seized-in-raid;-could-contain-urine-antifreeze/1355189

http://www.nytimes.com/1989/03/04/nyregion/a-new-gang-s-violent-role-in-chinatown.html

http://www.theepochtimes.com/n3/452164-shift-in-approach-to-counterfeits-shown-in-new-un-campaign/

http://nypost.com/2013/04/07/tourists-beware-councilwoman-wants-to-make-it-a-crime-to-buy-knockoff-handbags/

http://www.nychinatown.org/articles/3cardmonte.html

http://www.allny.com/shopping-articles/canal-street-deals-new-york.html

Winter storm Niko produced hazardous conditions in New York.

Out of my Comfort Zone

Last week Mother Nature dumped about ten inches of snow on New York City. From my hotel window, I saw that few people were walking or driving. I turned on the news and the newscaster said that the blizzard conditions were deadly because a doorman had slipped while shoveling and had fallen through a window and died. They were warning people to stay off the streets. Though I was in New York to see my daughter, J, the news report made me think about falling on the ice, and I was apprehensive about leaving the hotel. I had already fallen twice in New York, and wine was not involved.

 

The first time, I was walking on a pretty day with J, and I tripped over a sidewalk crack and I was down on all fours. Ok, I really tripped over my own feet.

 

J had said, “Mother, get up before someone falls over you and hurts themselves, you’re fine.” Though I was shaken, I got up like nothing had happened.

 

The second time I had fallen, I was wearing boots with little tread and it was snowing. I was sliding all over the sidewalk like I was on greased ice. I resembled a three-year old that had never ice skated before, and I grasped my husband’s arm like it was the wall that child clung to as he encircled the ice rink.

 

When I almost pulled my husband down he said, “What’s wrong? No one else that is walking is acting like you. Let me see the bottom of your boots.”

 

I lifted my smooth-bottomed Ugg. He said, “We’re buying you boots.”

 

Unfortunately, I didn’t get those boots fast enough, because within minutes, I slipped and fell on my back. Since I had already made a scene, my friends laughed because they thought that I fell on purpose. Did they really think that I would lie on the dirty New York street in my dress coat just to entertain them?

 

I was thinking about these previous trips, when J called and said that it was just slush and she insisted we go out. She is determined that I am not acting old no matter what, and she digs me out of my comfort zone.

 

She said, “My eighty-year-old superintendent is out shoveling snow, so if he can go out, you can too.”

 

J had come to get me, and I stepped outside and tentatively took a few steps on the sidewalk to determine if it was slippery.

 

“Mom, if you walk like that, it looks like you are trying to fall, so can you just walk like everyone else?”

 

I walked but watched the road for ice. J was ahead and she casually glanced back ensuring that I wasn’t sprawled on the ground. As we walked to J’s apartment, I told her that I was not relishing ascending the steps to her sixth-floor apartment, actually twelve-half flights, but who’s counting unless you are gasping for breath.

 

J said, ” There are 80 year olds that live up there, and they take the steps everyday and carry groceries, it just takes them a little longer. If they can do it, so can you.”

 

After visiting her apartment, we walked her neighborhood. I was glad that we had this time together and when I left, I thought about those snow-shoveling-eighty-year-olds. I know that I will live a fuller life if I listen to J, but I hope that she doesn’t kill me in the process.

 

Related Posts

 

https://dorothyadele.wordpress.com/2013/07/31/growing-older-but-still-having-fun/

230 Fifth in Manhattan — A Must Visit

We step up to the largest rooftop bar in Manhattan, 230 Fifth on 27th and 5th Avenue. The Empire State Building towers past palm trees and pink and white flowers that spill from containers.

The Manhattan skyline offers a spectacular view as we sip a cocktail and escape from mad-motion Manhattan. Even though the weather is drizzly and cool, the patio is partly heated and customers don soft red robes provided by the staff. Large umbrellas hover over tables for added protection.

During harsh weather or if a nightclub atmosphere is preferred, customers can enjoy the view from the fully enclosed lounge a floor below.

230 Fifth is open everyday from 4 p.m. to 4 a.m. and serves brunch on Saturdays and Sundays from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. The cost is $29 for adults and $15 for children.

They offer an appetizer through dessert menu and  bottle service. With bottle service, a customer can buy a bottle of alcohol for several times the retail price like a Grey Goose Magnum for $575.

The food and drinks are also pricey. The cost for a Chicken Caesar Salad  is $16 and a Strawberry Mimosa is $15.

Though expensive, the spectacular view of the Manhattan skyline makes the price palatable. Anyway, where else can you wear a robe in a bar?

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Manhattan Bicycle Rickshaw/Pedicab Scam

 

A pedi-cab in Times Square in NYC days before the new years 2011 party. Photo taken on: December 25th, 2010

Credit line:© Michael Ludwig | Dreamstime.com

A pedicab driver scammed my daughter and me in Manhattan recently. My daughter and I Christmas shopped for several hours one day in December. As we walked towards our hotel, we decided to climb into a bicycle rickshaw. The driver gave us a heavy wool blanket and rolled down a thick plastic sheet for warmth. Our pedicab weaved in and out of swarming -yellow taxicabs. Some came within inches of our cart. I contemplated jumping out, but I stayed to enjoy the relaxing adventure with my daughter.

 

After six blocks of horn-screaming bumper-to-bumper traffic, my heart was pounding. I had enough fun.

I was looking forward to a great dinner with my family, so I wasn’t ready to die in a pedicab. (They would never let me live it down.)

When we exited the rickshaw, the driver said that we owed him $40. As I questioned him about the price, a man pulled up next to us and asked about our discussion. I said that the driver charged us $40 for pedaling six blocks. When the man glared at the rickshaw driver, I knew that we were scammed.  I tossed $20 to the rickshaw driver and walked away.

I researched pedicab companies to learn the appropriate cost for pedicab rides. The Central Park Pedicab Tour site’s price list seems reasonable. Also, The NYC Pedicab Owners’ Association offers tips to avoid scams. My advice is to negotiate a price before climbing into a bicycle- rickshaw -death trap.

What has been your experience with pedicabs in Manhattan?