In the News: Canal Street counterfeiters stung

J. & L. caught NBC4’s story that five people were arrested and $2 million in counterfeit goods were taken off Canal and Broadway in an NYPD’s Patrol Services Bureau sting operation on Friday.

Club Industry, which looks like a fitness industry blog, reports that Equinox Tribeca, which has been in 50 Murray for 20 years, is now in a dispute with its new(ish) landlord there and is seeking $8 million in damages “for allegedly threatening to terminate its lease over various noise-related violations.”


I will get over there myself soon, and safe to say I won’t have the same expectations as the Times’ Pete Wells, who says Daniel Boulud’s new restaurant Le Gratin is not French enough — or more specifically, not Bouchon Lyonnaise enough. He writes: “They have produced a raft of French and French-lite dishes that can be found all over Manhattan, although they won’t necessarily be as good as they are at Le Gratin.” It’s not all bad, however: “There is, in fact, a lot to enjoy at Le Gratin, but it probably isn’t going to make you stand on the table and sing.”

New York Magazine has 21 questions with Magda Sawon, the co-founder of Postmasters Gallery, which recently announced it is leaving Tribeca. She talks about selling shoes at Bendel’s when she first arrived in New York, what she loves to see at The Met, some of her favorite art pieces at home and adapting to the next new thing. It’s a great read.



  1. The counterfeiters were right back out taking over the sidewalks the over the weekend. This needs *repeated* regular enforcement. One-time raid does nothing.

    • this operation took place only after city resident complaints? what about the police that see them operate in the open on Canal street every day? they let this go obviously.

      • There are typically police patrolling the intersection of Broadway and Canal Street both for pedestrians and traffic and they completely ignore these vendors.

        I am always amazed as I watch the NYPD walk through the vendors’ maze of goods on the sidewalk with no care in the world. They don’t even look down. I don’t get it.

      • A petition was started to show law enforcement that as citizens we care about our city. If you copy and paste the link below it’ll take you to the petition. The more people sign it the more our voices will be heard.

    • When I first read this story I had visions of a revitalized Canal Street with art galleries, restaurants and stores that would serve the community. Alas, it is back to what has hobbled our area for years.
      It does appear that calling 311 does work and I encourage concerned readers to call and stop being indifferent to this blight.

  2. Finally something got done about the counterfeit goods… it is really INSANE that they not only take the whole sidewalks but also break the law so clearly and NO ONE did anything about it…

  3. Every time the do a “bust”, I laugh. But I also wonder why the high-end brands don’t demand something be done about it. I will no longer buy designer bags, because if they don’t care enough to do something, why waste a lot of money on “real” goods so easily knocked off.

  4. Why is this allowed to continue? Why is there no real enforcement? This problem could be erased in a matter of days with consistent enforcement. Just keep seizing the junk and it becomes no longer profitable to play this fake game. (Getting rid of counterfeits sold online is a whole different problem, which needs to be addressed as well).

    This is not a “trivial” problem. Counterfeiting is not just a violation of IP rights; it drives exploitative labor conditions, funds organized crime and even terrorism.

    “Don’t buy that Gucci knockoff: Your bargain benefits organized crime while endangering countless others”

    “Counterfeiting and Piracy Fuel Organized Crime: UN”

    “Did You Know Fake Goods Support Organized Crime? Here’s What You Need to Know”

    • “Police said that complaints from city residents is what led to the enforcement operation.“

      Keep complaining about counterfeiting, blocked sidewalks, etc on 311.

    • A petition was started to show law enforcement that as citizens we care about our city. If you copy and paste the link below it’ll take you to the petition. The more people sign it the more our voices will be heard.

  5. How bout divert your police resources to solving the crime and homeless problem?

    who is this really helping, the multi-million dollar luxury brands? Come on – priorities….

    • I think this can be “both…and” and not “either…or”.
      All those problems can and should be addressed.

      And it’s not just about “luxury” brands. See above links for some articles about the extended damage that counterfeiting creates, including massively funding organized crime and even terrorism, flooding the markets with defective items or dangerous fakes (cosmetics, foods, medicines, toys, technologies, etc.), economic damage, exploitative and unsafe labor conditions, etc.

      More here also:

  6. Selling these goods is a way to make ends meet for most of these people. Most of them are first generation Senegalese immigrants. What other job opportunities do they have?. For them it’s a way to provide for their families. While
    they do block foot traffic, and trash the sidewalks, they are honest and non-violent people. I’d prefer them there policing the sidewalk as opposed to random panhandlers or psychotics.

    If you move them out you might be surprised who would replace them.

    • Counterfeiting is not “honest” in any way. The counterfeit products are by definition an intentional deception; they violate IP; this “business” damages legitimate businesses, and causes billions in economic damage; they break many laws; presumably pay no business license fees, no rents for using and blocking public space, probably pay no sales or income taxes, etc. As for violence, see above links also for info on how counterfeiting funds organized crime and even terrorism, and discussion of other knock-on effects of this multi-trillion dollar “industry”. This is not a minor or victimless activity.

  7. “The usually low-crime 1st Precinct, which covers the Financial District, is No. 7 on the list of highest crime increases — with a 65% spike this year.

    “Major crimes in the neighborhood encompassing Wall Street are up to 1,152 compared to the 696 that occurred over the same period last year, the figures show.

    ” ‘The criminals know now that they can go into the high price areas and there’s no consequences. So now they can go to the 6th Precinct, the 1st Precinct where the tourists are and it’s the same as being in an higher crimes neighborhood,’ a veteran Manhattan cop told The Post.

    ” ‘Why rob someone there when you can rob someone that’s rich and there’s no consequences?’

    “The 10 NYPD commands south of 59th Street — known as Patrol Borough Manhattan South — have seen a huge 51% increase in felony crime, driving a 36% overall spike in major crimes citywide compared to the same period in 2021, figures show.”

  8. I remember working midtown in the 1980s and peddlers (2 on every block) had bags and watches on blankets. When one would see the cops, they would have a signal to alert the others and they would run to go somewhere else. Sadly, today it’s different people but from the same places.

  9. Guide to walking on Canal Street
    Be Careful with Your Cash-Now that your pockets are stuffed with bills, try not to show it. Keep your cash tucked away somewhere close to your body, so that you aren’t an easy target for pickpockets. Also remember to keep your cash hidden when negotiating a deal – your wad won’t help much in convincing someone to sell you that $30 wallet for $12.

    Don’t Carry A Purse- For safety reasons, it’s best to leave your purse at home when you head to NYC’s Canal Street. (You may find yourself toting a few of them on the way home, though!) If you just can’t leave home without your handbag, keep it zipped up and snug under your arm.

    • Why promote this behavior? That site even acknowledges that it’s illegal and linked to organized crime.

      “NOTE: Yes, counterfeiting is illegal. .. and the counterfeiting trade on Canal Street may be linked to other crime webs, including violent crimes. Just so you know.”

      Yet the site still shamefully encourages engaging in what it admits is “shady business” and fueling these “crime webs”.

  10. No one is mentioning the biggest beneficiary of this counterfeit trade: The Chinese Communist Party. That’s right, America’s number one enemy. But this whack-a-mole approach will never solve the problem. Make it a crime to BUY counterfeit goods and see how fast the Canal Street market dries up.

    • Yes. Isn’t it illegal already though to buy counterfeits? I read conflicting info about that, so I’m not sure myself.

      Of course, the problem will be enforcement. People will just claim naivete: “How could I know it was counterfeit?”
      Sure, because Chanel would definitely be selling their wares on a dogpee-enhanced blanket on the sidewalk, when their actual store is right up the street.

      • It is illegal to buy stolen goods; it is not illegal to buy counterfeit goods. It is illegal to manufacture counterfeits, and import, distribute, and sell them, as trademark and/or patent/intellectual property violations.

    • It will not dry up at all.

      As I have commented before:

      The New York Times published an article “Undercover on Canal St., With Louis Vuitton Impostors in His Sights” on Jan 29, 2006.

      A woman interested in purchasing handbags watched as investigators loaded confiscated, fake handbags into a truck. When they reassured the woman the handbags were counterfeit, she replied, in shock, “‘I thought they were stolen!’”

      • Well, isn’t knowably buying stolen goods also a crime?

      • James,

        You say “it would not dry up”…but isn’t that only because there is no enforcement? If there are proper laws against buying counterfeits and stolen goods, and they were actually enforced regularly and consistently, I would think this would dry up.

        A start would be announcing this in all tourist web site, government sites, tourist brochures and visitor centers, etc. Warn people about the illegal sales, and that they can be held criminally responsible for purchasing such items.

        • When Councilmember Chin tried to combat counterfeit purchases in 2013, it was clear there was no law against *buying* counterfeits, only *selling* them. Chin proposed a bill that would make it a Class A misdemeanor to purchase counterfeit merchandise, with either $1,000 fine or up to a year in jail.

          The Mayor’s office refused to support it. The Brooklyn DA said it would not be an enforceable law, because one could not easily prove the buyer’s knowledge. The City Council committee chair refused to push the bill forward.

          DeBlasio having shifted street vendor enforcement from NYPD to the “Department of Consumer and Worker Protection” displayed a total lack of interest in dealing with this issue.

          • Thank you for that background info, James.

            Margaret Chin was the one who sponsored that bill to disempower the police from enforcing laws about vendors.

            “The March 2021 law moved enforcement away from cops and handed it over to the city Department of Consumer Affairs and Worker Protection.”

            “Margaret Chin, the Democratic Manhattan councilwoman who sponsored the bill that put DCWP in charge of enforcement, was unapologetic about the new law’s unintended consequences — and even suggested the unlicensed, unregulated and unaccountable vendors should just be left alone.”


          • marcus is right. you can’t have it both ways. either you let the police enforce the law or you don’t. until we go back to a serious anti-crime broken windows policing, the city will be chaos. welcome to the 1970s.

  11. P.S. The “enforcement” abilities of this new useless Department of Consumer Affairs and Worker Protection are zilch… “It lacks the authority to confiscate goods — or even demand identification from street hawkers.”

    Where oh where do our city tax dollars go?

  12. It’s crazy what’s going on Canal Street & the surrounding blocks of Church, Mercer, Broadway & Lispnard. The last 18 months it’s been getting worse especially drug dealers mixing in with the Counterfeiters now.

    A petition was started to show law enforcement that as citizens we care about our city. If you copy and paste the link below it’ll take you to the petition. The more people sign it the more our voices will be heard.

  13. A petition was started to show law enforcement that as citizens we care about our city. If you copy and paste the link below it’ll take you to the petition. The more people sign it the more our voices will be heard.