The heart of Chinatown, Canal Street is hectic with pedestrian traffic and vociferous street vendors. It has long been the place to go for counterfeit designer products, but a police crackdown has cut down on the number of knockoff handbags, watches, jewelry, and shades displayed in the open on this crowded street. Customers are not at risk of arrest, but vendors are. Still, it hasn’t dissuaded intrepid salespeople from reaching out to tourists who crowd the street in the afternoons and on weekends – they’ve simply become stealthier.
If you’re looking for a fake designer accessory, watch for men on street corners with wallet-size plastic catalogs of product photos. Then, either they’ll lead you down the back stairwell of a store, or around a corner to another address. What happens afterwards is not for the faint of heart: you’ll be taken into rooms that may then be locked behind you. Spread out on the floor will be a selection of faux brand-name accoutrements to choose from – Gucci, Cartier, Prada – you name it, there’s a fake for it.
Alternatively, locate one of the minivans parked just off Canal Street, used by mobile vendors who are ready to move on at the slightest sign of police activity.
How to shop for a fake
- Don’t be afraid to haggle, especially if you’re buying more than one item
- Do your research on the latest trends before you buy if you don’t want an out-of-date fake
- If you don’t see what you want, ask. Chances are someone will have it ‘in stock’.
- Be sure to look carefully at the items, and look for shoddy workmanship like zippers that don’t close, or seams that aren’t sewn together correctly.
- Remember to carry cash, but not too much, as visible wads won’t help in your negotiations
- Avoid buying pirated DVDs – usually shot by home video cameras in theaters and terrible quality.