Seen & Heard: Counterfeit Vendors Camped Out on Lispenard

••• When I posted the CB1 Unofficial Minutes the other day, I only had a rendering of the Harley-Davidson of NYC dealership that showed bikes on the plaza. Here are two photos, one of the plaza clearly being used as retail space, and one of bikes parked on the street along with a Harley traffic cone—it doesn’t take a huge leap to see that the dealership is probably using cones to reserve parking. Also, residents of 376 Broadway might consider investigating whether the retail space is zoned as a garage: That’s effectively what it is since the dealership is renting bikes as well as selling them.

Harley-Davidson of NYC plaza 376 BroadwayHarley-Davidson of NYC plaza 376 Broadway cone••• While I’m in community activist mode, perhaps the NYPD could visit the counterfeit vendors treating Lispenard Street like a WeWork office?

Lispenard counterfeit vendors••• Friends of Bogardus Garden‘s fifth-annual Harvest Festival is Saturday, October 24, from 10:30 a.m. to 12:30 p.m.: “Please join us for one of our biggest events of the year featuring lots of free family-friendly activities, performances, live music, light refreshments and more. Have an hour to spare? please sign up to volunteer, we need your help!”

••• Coming up at the BMCC Tribeca Performing Arts Center: The Berenstain Bears LIVE! in Family Matters, The Musical, on Saturday, November 14. Tickets.

••• Signs up yet again at Broadway and Reade for “Law & Order: Perverts,” shooting Tuesday and Wednesday.

••• The tower under construction at 115 Nassau is going to have two pointy horns; you can see the pedestal for one.

115 Nassau••• A pretty bit of animation by Ian Berry. Click here to see it in its original square format—I couldn’t figure out how to make it fit in this column width without compromising the shape.

A video posted by Ian Berry (@en_b) on



  1. Here is a nearby analogous use:

    At 1 York St, the Maserati dealer shows on the C of O as follows:

    Floor: 001
    Maximum persons permitted: 180
    Live load lbs per sq. ft.: 100
    Building Code occupancy group: M
    Zoning use group: 9
    Description of user: CAR SHOW ROOM

    HD of NYC space is use group 10, not 9.

  2. The zoning resolution states that Use Group 9 includes “Automobile, motorcycle, #trailer# or boat showrooms or sales, with no repair services and with no preparation of vehicles or boats for delivery [PRC-C]”

    Use Group 10 retail includes other kinds of retail.

    “Retail or Service Establishments

    Carpet, rug, linoleum or other floor covering stores, with no limitation on #floor area# per establishment [PRC-B1]

    Clothing or clothing accessory stores, with no limitation on #floor area# per establishment [PRC-B]

    Department stores [PRC-B]

    Depositories for storage of office records, microfilm or computer tapes, or for data processing [PRC-G]

    Docks for ferries, other than #gambling vessels#, with no restriction on passenger load. In Community District 1 in the Borough of Brooklyn, such docks shall be certified by the Chairperson of the City Planning Commission, pursuant to
    Section 62-813 (Docking facilities for ferries or water taxis in certain waterfront areas) [PRC-H]

    Dry goods or fabric stores, with no limitation on #floor area# per establishment [PRC-B]

    Eating or drinking places, without restrictions on
    entertainment or dancing, but limited to location in hotels [PRC-D]

    Furniture stores, with no limitation on #floor area# per establishment [PRC-B1]

    Office or business machine stores, sales or rental [PRC-B1]

    Photographic or motion picture production studios [PRC-D]

    Radio or television studios [PRC-D]

    Television, radio, phonograph or household appliance stores, with no limitation on #floor area# per establishment [PRC-B]

    Variety stores, with no limitation on #floor area# per establishment [PRC-B]”

    • Also see use group 16, quoted in relevant part:

      “A. Retail or Service Establishments …

      Automobile, motorcycle, trailer or boat sales, open or enclosed [PRC-C] …

      Motorcycle or motor scooter rental establishments [PRC-C] …

      B. Automotive Service Establishments

      Automobile, truck, motorcycle or #trailer# repairs [PRC-C]

      Automobile laundries, provided that the #zoning lot# contains reservoir space for not less than 10 automobiles per washing lane

      #Automotive service stations#, open or enclosed, provided that facilities for lubrication, minor repairs or washing are permitted only if located within a #completely enclosed building#

      C. Vehicle Storage Establishments

      Commercial or public utility vehicle storage, open or enclosed, including #accessory# motor fuel pumps [PRC-G]

      Dead storage of motor vehicles

      Public transit yards, open or enclosed, including
      #accessory# motor fuel pumps [PRC-G]”

      • And which city agency oversees this kind of thing?

        • Department of Buildings enforces the Zoning Resolution, and cannot waive its provisions. (Only a variance granted by the Board of Standards and Appeals can waive zoning rules.)

        • On its website, DoB keeps “administratively closing,” i.e., ignoring, 311 complaints about this zoning issue of the illegal use of the retail space by Harley @ 376 Broadway. It is justifying doing so by confusing this 1st floor CO issue with a previous 311 complaint about the separate issue of the seizure of the privately owned public space by Harley (which is still “active” for “research” since 10/14 despite the fact that all the evidence needed appears on the CO available on DoB’s own website!) Is DoB intentionally thwarting the process for Harley’s benefit?

  3. I’d try to get as many people as possible to put in 311 complaints for the folks on Lispenard. I was hoping the Walgreens opening would drive them away but that apparently was not the case.

    • I wish those guys would just move on. They are destroying Canal Street. I’ve talk with many retail owners about Canal Street. They love the access and location, but the fake handbags and watches scare them away. Thus you have a a bunch of vacant stores instead of a nice retail street.

      Why is this allowed?

      • Josh, Canal street has ALWAYS been like this…sadly, it’s a mecca for counterfeit goods. Back in the 90’s all of lower Manhattan was THE place to get fake watches, bags, Perry Ellis jackets, Fila sneakers etc. Most of the area below Delancey street has cleaned up except for this stretch (or perhaps much of the sales are now behind closed doors).

        Why doesn’t the NYPD just arrest these guys for selling fake handbags and loitering? I’ve threaten to call the cops on them when they’ve tried to follow me home, harassing me to buy a “Gucci” watch and a “Goyard” bag….

        • HH,

          I am aware that Canal Street is legendary for it’s counterfeit goods and have seen it for many many years. But at least there were more stores (albeit for tourists) a few years back and it fit the area.

          With the recent developments in northern Tribeca and the continued growth of Soho, Canal Street is beginning to be pushed into this bizarre situation that is not fitting the area anymore. Things are getting nicer all around it, and the bodegas and tourist trap stores of canal streets are closing and yet the vacancies grow and counterfeit goods continue to litter the street.

          It does hurt the local retailer that are near Canal Street and hinders growth.

      • NYPD precincts are measured by weekly and monthly crime and complaint statistics. Without ongoing complaints by the public, even anonymously, about ongoing problems, there appears to be no managerial motivation from commanders to solve even the most flagrant quality of life issues.

        • And I’ll say it again, because James is being polite: If you want something to change, you have to complain loudly to people who can do something about it, and you have to get others to complain, too. Also, pictures help.

          • So we just put in a 311 request & this was the response:

            Your Service Request was closed.

            The Police Department responded to the complaint and with the information available observed no evidence of the violation at that time.


            This is very frustrating as there obviously were- and still are- vendors illegally selling counterfeit goods on Canal & Lispenard Street, but the NYPD is not wanting to deal with it. Is the Mayor’s Office a better place to lodge complaints?

          • Contact Community Board 1 ( and Councilmember Margaret Chin ( Either on their own or together, they’ll have more sway with the NYPD than you will. Get your neighbors to email them, too, and include photos noting the dates/times when the vendors were there. If you have ever felt unsafe or harassed by the vendors, by all means mention it.

            Another option, but with less accountability, is the 1st Precinct’s Community Council meeting (

    • i live on Lispenard and i am sick and tired of these people and the rubbish they leave behind!

  4. This has been going in since the 80’s. They get swept up, fined a few hundred bucks, then back to business. It’s more agressive now. Follow the money….

    • “Follow the money” is a rather open-ended idea here, suggesting conspiracy. But I think the answer does have to do with money – not so much who is making it as who stands to lose. What people in law enforcement have told me is that trying to deal effectively with these people is a losing proposition for an underfunded judicial system. Punishing or incarcerating these people would cost taxpayers money. Putting them out of business, as they barely employed now, would simply make them burdens on the state. Therefore leaving things as they are makes the most economic sense. At least they’re taking home enough money to pay rent on their oftentimes overpopulated dwellings, and buy food at their oftentimes overpriced local markets, which in turn makes those markets viable enterprises. People who don’t make enough to buy actual Louis Vuitton will pay for fake LV, and in doing so will support the underground pipeline for such goods streaming in from China, which subsidizes US debt. People who can’t afford to shop at Macy’s shop at Walmart and the like, and thereby keep the overground market for cheap goods from China alive. This is America’s downward economic spiral at work, and the problem is deeply structural. Cleaning up the street won’t have even the tiniest effect on the larger economic environment, of which those street vendors are merely the basically uneradicable symptom. I don’t mean to go all Bernie Sanders here but…

  5. “the counterfeit vendors treating Lispenard Street like a WeWork office” – hahahahahahahahahaha

  6. Still no progress on these “vendors”…I will file another complaint with 311…others who are concerned about this please do the same, or contact Community Board etc. as advised above.

    This is a disgrace. It’s even worse now that the Bank building has no occupant and is becoming a graffiti eyesore as well.