Canal Street: Buyers Beware?

Jeffrey Kwan emailed the other day to make sure I had seen the New York Times article on the resurgence of Canal Street; he and his parents own Canal Hi-Fi at 319 Canal (founded in 1977), and they’ve also lived in Tribeca since 1990. He was attending the NYPD’s 1st Precinct Community Council meeting that night, and he said he’d report back.

And he did! “I was pleasantly surprised to hear how much work the 1st precinct has been doing despite the cutbacks,” he wrote in his follow-up email. “Commanding officer Winski dished out a lot of good statistics on arrests and seized goods. There were many lively discussion topics concerning our (north) side of Canal, Greene, and Lispenard Streets. There was a good turnout of both residents and business owners. The best point of contention, I felt, was that we need new legislation on illegal counterfeit peddling. […] Many think that we should cut off demand by making it illegal for people to purchase counterfeit goods. It’s actually illegal in Italy and France, where the current penalty is double the value of the counterfeited item! One person suggested to Captain Winski that they arrest the [stereotypical] ‘four women from Kansas’ for a few hours and have the press there to capture the moment.”

So, readers: Should the police crack down on purchasers of counterfeit goods (even if it’s just for show)?



  1. I completely agree with Kwon that it should be illegal to purchase these goods. Many of these buyers are under the impression that these are “real” designer goods and are swept up in getting a “deal” that they don’t even think twice about how their purchases affect the neighborhood. As a TriBeCa resident for the past 4 years, and a NYC resident for the past 26 years, I despise being harassed daily on Canal streets by these vendors. I own a real Louis Vuitton bag. I don’t need to buy a fake one.

  2. it’s kwAn, with an A.

  3. but, mispellings aside, i wholeheartedly agree with your points.

  4. Maybe those women from Kansas can wear a t-shirt that says in Chinese ” I want a real one.”

  5. It is quite annoying to walk on Canal Str. because of these vendors. And what’s up with the counterfeit goods mania?? Fake looks fake! Haha, I would love to watch that on the that mean?

  6. The city needs money…these vendors don’t pay taxes and in fact, hurt legit retailers who sell the real stuff and pay taxes and contribute to government coffers in a myriad of ways. So the city should fine people–just like it does for speeding and other small crimes–who buy and sell counterfeits. The fines should be low enough that people will actually pay them, but not so low that they’re meaningless. Right now, the sellers are arrested and have ZERO risk of facing jail time. They’re part of a network of organized criminals and they price the cost of avoiding jail into the goods they sell. They know that only a few of their numbers are sent to prison and the ‘kingpins’ in China (or wherever) are completely safe–they’re part of the government/organized crime machine itself.
    But if BUYERS of these items faced fines, they’d pay them and this would both reduce the size of the trade and help the city recoup at least some of what it loses. Why the major retailers and designers don’t push for this is beyond me.