Progress on the counterfeit bazaar on Broadway?

I went by the Broadway / Lispenard / Canal intersections three times last week and the landscape was shockingly free of counterfeit goods and merchants. That’s my picture from Nov. 17. (And this was the scene last month.)

And K. reported that she was riding the M55 back from Midtown yesterday and saw several cop cars and bags of seized merchandise being hauled away — turns out it was a sting that collected $10 million in counterfeit goods. Has anyone noticed the same scene, or was I just lucky?

I am not naive enough to think this is true and permanent progress, but maybe it’s a bit of relief for the holiday season. I would also think that the new operators of INTER, the immersive art experience installed in the First National City Bank building at 415 Broadway, would not want the entrance to their space to be unnavigable thanks to the sellers AND the shoppers.

The Post thought otherwise, when they ran this story on Nov. 26. (Thanks, James.) And certainly the setup was as robust as ever following their “Operation Bag Guys” sting in August.

But I’ll take a reprieve…



  1. According to the Post there was a big crackdown yesterday, but that doesn’t account for the past few weeks…

  2. It’s great that this happened, but it has to be done consistently to permanently eradicate this scourge. Daily tickets, fines, seizures of the junk, etc.

  3. Does anyone know if there are any development plans for the ugly parking lot on that corner of Broadway and Lispenard? That is also the center of the junk sales, so development there might also change the neighborhood for the better.

  4. They were out in force Sunday around 10:30 am

  5. The big raid was Monday afternoon. The sidewalk was barely passable just hours before. I like to think this is the beginning of some sort of change? This is a two prong problem, both the vendors and the merchandise are illegal. Even if the city creates an indoor market space for the vendors, selling counterfeit goods is still illegal.
    The only way forward is to enforce the law and ban the sale.
    More than ten million? I wonder how they got that number? Based on the value of real brand products or fake? And what did they do with the seized goods? Hopefully not already back on the street!

    • Right. Offering legit licenses does not solve the problem that these are still illegal counterfeits. So to render these businesses legit also requires that they no longer deal in counterfeits at all.

      At least some of the news reports suggest $10 million was based on the selling prices of the junk, not the value of the real brand items.

      For example: “Fake Rolex watches were selling for $75. Even at that price, authorities say the counterfeit goods they seized had a street value of more than $10 million.”

      If based on the real prices, then the number would be vastly higher then.

      The $10 million figure does seem high. Assuming average street price of the junk is $50 (that’s a guess…maybe it’s more), that would require seizing 200,000 items!

  6. I also hope this is a sign of a real change. I wonder if the seizure had anything to do with the petition. I always wonder whether petitions really have any effect, and same for 311 calls and such….maybe they do. If so, we should keep up the pressure regarding this and other issues in hopes of resolution.

  7. I think the scathing NY Post article was the catalyst, not the petition. I was out there today to pick up a rice roll from Joe’s (always a treat) and it was a pleasure to walk down Broadway to Canal. Worth noting, there were 4 uniformed offers all together on the West side corner of Lispenard and Broadway, no vendors with wares on the street, but I encountered two covert shopping deals directly across the street from them in full view (with the laminated sheet of purses in full view). Still, not going to complain, a great improvement!

    • Maybe it was the Post article. Then again, the Post article talks about the petition…so maybe the petition was a spur for the Post article, so still had indirect effect.

      I would recommend continuing to put in 311 calls (or online forms) whenever you see this cropping again, here or in other areas (like the Brooklyn Bridge etc.).

  8. Today I was pleasantly surprised to see the Canal/Broadway area devoid of the counterfeit hustlers. I spoke with two cops from the 1st pct. in an unmarked car who told me that 20 people were arrested and two truckloads of goods were confiscated.

    Let’s see how long this lasts.

    Next target should be the vendors clogging the Brooklyn Bridge walkway.

  9. That is progress indeed. It will require regular attention by the police, though, for this to last.

  10. While i dont begrudge someone trying to make a living, a few times the vendors were aggressive (or those with them) when I tried to get past the crowded sidewalk. One guy selling stuff acted fairly aggressive after I bumped into him, as if he wanted to start a fight. I am 6′ 4″ so not sure how he treats shorter people. Glad for them to be gone. Would rather support small businesses that actually follow rules

    • I’ve had those kinds of interactions here also. A buyer got mad at me for walking between her and the seller, even though that was the only way get through. I ignored her. Alternative: remind that the primary purpose of a sidewalk is …walking.

      Many neighbors simply give up and walk out in the street instead, which is clearly not advisable with the mad driving and spike in traffic-caused deaths.

  11. Well, it was pleasantly empty early today, but as of last time I walked past, it’s filling up with junk vendors and junk buyers again. So these “raids” have to be frequent if there is to be any lasting fix.

  12. Please consider signing the petition about this counterfeit bazaar, which has recently grown worse than ever and spread to other blocks:

  13. I walked by Canal & Broadway…and the counterfeiters and their illicit customers are out there in force.

    So $30 million dollar seizure and performative “arrests” had absolute zero effect. How can that be? Inquiring minds want to know….