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

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Worth Avenue in Palm Beach, Fla., Courtyard

I may have sat in President Kennedy’s chair

Our Friends shopping on Worth Avenue

Our Friends shopping on Worth Avenue (photo by dorothyadele)

A recent trip to Worth Avenue in Palm Beach triggered memories from a previous trip when we naïvely entered an expensive, renowned restaurant when we were in our 20s. What could have been an embarrassing mistake became a memorable experience.

The trip began when I vacationed with my friends in Fort Lauderdale, Fla., and we drove to Palm Beach to spend the day. We arrived in the morning and strolled down Worth Avenue. Worth Avenue is often compared to Rodeo Drive in Beverly Hills, Calif., and Avenue Montaigne in Paris.

Exclusive fashion boutiques, jewelry stores, antique shops, fine furniture stores, restaurants, gift shops and spas composed — and still compose — Worth Avenue. Ferraris, Bentleys,  Mercedes-Benz and Rolls-Royce automobiles  were parked on the palm-tree-lined street. Brightly colored flowers cascaded over arches and poured out of tubs and baskets outside the shops and in the courtyards.

Friends are strolling on Worth Avenue in Palm Beach,Fla.

Friends are strolling on Worth Avenue in Palm Beach,Fla. (Photo by dorothyadele)

We window shopped, and watched diamond-adorned shoppers saunter in and out of Gucci, Van Cleef and Arpels, Hermes, Neiman Marcus and Cartier stores. Many shoppers wore hats and sported designer clothes, shoes and bags.

By mid afternoon, we were hungry and we looked for a restaurant for lunch. I suggested that we drop into Ta-boo for a quick bite. I did not realize that it was famous,  and President John F. Kennedy, Frank Sinatra, Donald Trump, Jimmy Buffett, the Duke and Duchess of Windsor, Rod Stewart and many other celebrities had dined there.

I was first to enter the restaurant , and I stopped like I had hit a wall. I spotted shiny silverware and crisp starched white tablecloths, and I knew that it wasn’t in the average price range for us 20 somethings.

I considered bolting out the door and sprinting down Worth Avenue in search of McDonalds‘ golden arches. Instead I casually glanced back at my friends with an uh-oh look and smiled. We quickly decided to stay.

My friends liked new experiences and were unlikely to get upset over a lunch. Also, it would have been awkward if we darted past the maitre d and out the door clutching our wallets. I bet that would have raised some eyebrows.

Though Ta-boo was upscale, we enjoyed our lunch and had a great time. My friends teased me that they would not allow me to suggest dropping into a restaurant for a quick bite ever again.

I fondly remember our lunch at Ta-boo. Who knows, I may even have sat in President John F. Kennedy’s chair that day.

Greetings and Readings, Hunt Valley, MD — Great Customer Service

We had a great experience ordering custom printing materials from Stephanie at Greetings and Readings . Greetings and Readings is located in the Hunt Valley Towne Centre in Hunt Valley, MD.

 The store is packed with unique merchandise. They stock cards, books, movies, music, toys, games, collectibles, candles, jewelry and numerous other items.  They even sell Ravens, Terps, and O’s gear.  They stock several name brands including Vera Bradley, Brighton and Swarovski Crystal (to name a few).  It is difficult to decide where to look first. If you want something new or need a wedding, shower, engagement, baby or birthday gift, you will find it at Greetings and Readings.

 My friend and I met with Stephanie in custom printing to discuss a print order for an upcoming event.  Of course, we needed the print order yesterday. (So what else is new?) We perused catalogs and selected our card stock.  Stephanie made printing suggestions. We proofread the material and placed an order. We hoped to receive our order within a week.

 I called Stephanie to follow up on the arrival time for our order.  She called the company (where we ordered the cards) and asked them to rush the print order.  I believe that she contacted them several times. We received the order earlier than expected without paying extra postage. 

 We appreciated Stephanie’s professionalism and follow through. She was also fun to work with! (Hopefully, we were too.)

Best Buy Timonium, MD, “One Stop Shopping” Failed

Best Buy in Timonium, MD

My husband, Doug, purchased a television and installation services from Best Buy in Timonium, MD. The install date was Thursday, January 19, 2012.

After the purchase, the salesperson took my husband to the Comcast -in- house center to purchase a HD box from Bob. Bob indicated that he had just given the last HD box away, but he told Doug that others should arrive soon.

Bob took Doug’s phone number and told him that he would call when a HD box arrived. He also gave him a Comcast phone number into the Best Buy store.

Doug did not receive any calls on January 16, 17, or 18. He called the Comcast in- store number about 10 times, there was no answer machine and no one answered the phone.

My husband called the store and waited on hold for about 25 minutes while a kind saleswoman tracked Bob down.

Bob told my husband that they did not have any HD boxes. He added that Comcast would not pay for an answer machine.

On January 18, my husband spoke to a woman from Best Buy who confirmed delivery for January 19, between 8a.m. and 12 p.m.

On January 19, I had a question about the cable, and I called Best Buy. During the call I learned that we were not scheduled for delivery that day.  I changed plans to ensure that I was home. They told me to call dispatch. Don’t you think that it was their job to resolve the problem?

I eventually spoke to the Best Buy assistant manager Dave. He set up delivery for nine days later.

On the second delivery date, we never received a call to confirm our delivery schedule. We were skeptical. My husband called Best Buy and spoke to Becca. She told him that the store manager Mark would return his call to confirm delivery. He never called.

We eventually received the television, however, Best Buy’s “One Stop Shopping” failed.

Has anyone had a similar experience at Best Buy?

Harry and David, Towson Town Center – Great Customer Service

Towson Town Center from Dulaney Valley Road

I needed a hostess gift for a special luncheon. I thought about flowers, guest soap, and wine. I stopped in Harry and David in Towson Town Center, that sells gift items like fruit, cheese, chips, salsa, crackers, dips, smoked salmon, candy, and more. I browsed and searched for something that could be enjoyed during cocktail hour.

The sales staff gave me some gift basket ideas. Tabitha made suggestions, and Christine added her ideas.  I could not have asked for better service.

They assembled and wrapped my unique gift basket that contained flax seed – tortilla chips, salsa, organic – water crackers, and bruschetta spread.  I will return because the staff was pleasant and provided excellent customer service.

Cross Street Market in Baltimore’s Federal Hill

Cross Street Market in Federal Hill, Baltimore, Md attracts a polo-shirt-crowd that mixes with the blue-collar locals.  It’s a fun place to eat and enjoy a glass of wine or a beer and absorb Baltimore culture. There are a variety of food options from homemade soup, fried seafood (including Baltimore crabcakes), sushi, raw oysters, steamed clams, shrimp, and mussels; chicken, fries and more.

Also, customers can shop for fresh vegetables, produce, meats, seafood, and chicken, or purchase prepared food to take home.

 Businesses will remain open when Cross Street undergoes renovations in the fall.

Related Posts:

Cross Street Market

http://www.bizjournals.com/baltimore/news/2017/03/22/cross-street-markets-revived-renovation-plan-has-a.html

http://www.baltimoresun.com/business/bs-bz-cross-street-market-canceled-20170208-story.html

http://www.baltimoresun.com/business/bs-bz-cross-street-revival-effort-20170307-story.html



 

 

Baltimore on Dwellable

Great Customer Service – Michael Kors Towson Town Center

I love the Michael Kors store in Towson Town Center Mall in Towson, Maryland. It is located in Zone B, the west wing, on the second floor.

The store window lures shoppers, and once inside, the merchandising invites you to feel the clothing texture and try something on. You are tempted to examine the shoes, bags and watches that are displayed throughout along with the scarves, hats and gloves.

 

I am not a designer shopper, because the prices are steep for me. However, they have stylish clothing, good prices and great sales. I stopped in the Michael Kors store in June, because my daughter needed a dress for an event. She tried on a chiffon-black dress that was on sale. It had a boat neckline and the handkerchief hem set it apart. 

While she was trying on dresses, I browsed. I had shopped for a straw bag for years. Until that day, none appealed to me, and I finally found a straw bag that I loved. The price, however, was more than I wanted to spend, and  I had asked the attentive salesperson if she would call me when it went on sale. Sure enough, a month later, I received a call. The price was reduced considerably. Not only did they call me, another salesperson sent me a picture, because I couldn’t exactly remember what it looked like.  How many times has a salesperson followed up with you?

Please don’t tell my husband, but I bought it, because he believes that I have enough bags. Imagine that! Men!

 

Unique Gift Shop in Bethany Beach

Do you need a gift for a friend or host?  Do you want something different for yourself? Whether you live at the beach, the city or suburbia, Sea Level Designs is a great store to browse and shop in South Bethany, DE.
They stock coastal themed merchandise for your home and your friend’s home.  Throws, colorful indoor and outdoor rugs, tropical lamps, figurines, tableware, night lights, wall decor, etc., are displayed throughout the store.


Are you concerned that you are not ready for Christmas and the holidays? Sea Level Designs has beach themed Christmas, holiday cards, and ornaments. You can address your holiday cards while sitting on the beach, or get a jump on your shopping.

This unique gift shop is worth a stop.

 

I Found A Link About Nordstrom’s Unbelievable Service

The exterior of a typical Nordstrom department...

Image via Wikipedia

Please click on this link to read about some of the Nordstrom legends.

I enjoy shopping at Nordstrom.  The salespeople are attentive and knowledgeable.  A few weeks ago I was looking for new spring clothes, and a young lady waited on me who was determined to update my wardrobe. I am a conservative dresser, but she brought me fashionable outfits. We both laughed because the outfits were not my style. The sales lady was determined to sell me something stylish.  I left with some trend-setting items. Her persistence paid off!

What do you think about Nordstrom’s service?

ATTENTION BUSINESS OWNERS! WAKE UP!

I am pleasantly surprised when I receive great customer service.  This is a blog about  dining, travel and my customer service experiences in the Maryland/Delaware  area.  

Kudos to the businesses that care about us,  however,  I hope that some of the local business owners wake up!

Have you ever been ignored by store personnel and left the store?  I am amazed that in this economy, companies aren’t more customer oriented. What do you think?

Should The Department Of Transportation repair roads  that lead into crowded resorts during the summer?  These repairs can cause major delays,  frustration and  affect tourism.  Untimely road construction can guarantee a poor customer experience . What are your thoughts?