D you blame the sellers?


Jan 1, 2007
Some threads regarding fake merchandise got me thinking about what goes on in Greece. The laws on counterfeit are as strong here as anywhere, both the greek state law and the EU law. But what seems to be a bit different is the citizens' view of the matter.
The majority of counterfeit sellers are Africans. The sale doesn't take place in a booth, o kiosk or a store but on the street, with the merchandise (mostly bags, illegal copies of CDs and sunglasses) lying on the pavement or in portable, foldable, small tables. Most people do not approve this illegal action, some dor copyright reasons, others because these products were manufactured in conditions not compatible with what we shortly call "human rights".
All these aside, most people in Greece we sometimes tend to sympathise with the sellers (not the manufacturers since these products are never manufactured here). The immigrants who end up selling illegal marchandise are mostly immigrants who had very bad treatment from our state. Taking a green card is not an easy thing here in Greece, not only because the law is strict but mostly because the clerks in the related state services tend to be corrupted or even plainly rude and unprofessional. To me, Greece has evolved in many many ways but still a bunch of stupid Greeks can still drive us back to where we were 20 years ago! Most of the times these immigrants et a permission to stay in Greece relatively easily but they aren't allowed to work, sometimes for years, until they get a separate permission! Only if they can afford a lawyer or a "tip" to the clerk! Africans, according to the police and the statistics, are almost never involved in criminal actions like murders, burglaring, mugging, assaults or rape. They resort to selling fake bags to make a buck and this is almost always their only crime. The greek police picks them up from the street almost every day. But most of them seem to be so honest and polite that, even if charges are pressed, the courts let them go with a simple warning. I guess this sounds irresponsible but it has worked cause there's less counterfeit selling than before. Of course those who have all the benefits the greek state can give have a way more strict approach!

What happens where you live? I know from personal experience that Americans have a totally different view of these matters (I guess terrorism has made the difference) but do you distinguish the sellers from the makers? Do the sellers are poor people with a true need or they could have another work and they chose this?
I've never, ever seen counterfeit merchandise being sold here in Holland out in the open. I'm sure it exists though. I was really surprised to see it in Florence earlier this year. One sheet after the other filled with bags, sunglasses, art, etc. The sellers would signal each other when the police were in sight and they'd just pick up all four corners of the sheet and go somewhere else.

Anyway, snapped this pic to give you an idea of the open-ness of it all.


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This happens in the US as well, I've seen it on the street in NYC and Atlanta.

I don't condone fakes, but we all do what we need to do to make a living. If you can't work legally, there aren't a lot of options, and selling fakes has to be healthier and safer than prostitution or drug sales. Still, it's not terribly responsible, IMO, to put yourself in a situation where you can't legally support yourself.
We went to Greece earlier this year, and I was very surprised to see counterfeit bags sold everywhere, and people were buying them! Thanks for informing us of the background behind this.

In NZ, fakes are not sold in the open, but rife on Trademe, the local auction website. The Trademe authority don't appear to do much to remove the listings even though I and other NZ tPF-ers report them.
Well I live in NYC and I know Chinatown is notoriously known to tourists for selling fake handbags. The vendors (i THINK) are usually illegal immigrants who approach tourists with binders full of pictures of their inventory. Then once the transaction is made, a person goes to a warehouse (or wherever) and gets the bag for the customer. I have actually seen a woman get arrested for selling fake handbags in Chinatown and there was a whole commotion. Even though they are cracking down on counterfeits, it is still practiced widely. Uptown Manhattan, I see African guys selling the bags sprawled out on the sidewalk and they are ALWAYS there. I'm surprised they haven't been arrested yet especially in a posh area like 67th street. I feel sorry for the vendors since they're trying to make a living. I know in Chinatown they take advantage of illegal immigrants and give them the worst wages possible. Very unfair :sad:
i don't blame the sellers as i don't blame the buyers nor the design house that put so much price on a bag. i still buy those bay anyway :P
this world has become such a complicated place that it's hard to say right and wrong!

Sorry, here's a better pic.

The situation has improved now, we didnt see a single counterfeit seller in December and we were really suprised!

Florence, like other parts of Italy was full of counterfeit hawkers. There are signs in the shopping areas warning that buyers will be fined if they are caught buying these goods. I don't know if they took other measures but something was successful
A friend of mine took me through a place called "Santee Alley" in LA once. It is a long street market selling clothing, knick knacks, etc, but there are also tons of stalls selling fake handbags out in the open. Almost all of the people working in the stalls seem to be Mexican immigrants.
When my DH and I were in Venice (Italy) on our honeymoon, there were TONS of men selling fake bags in the street, just like the pic Cal posted. They were even around the corner from the LV store near the Rialto! And whenever the police would come by, they'd grab their stuff and take off ('cause they knew it was illegal).

It was funny 'cause when we got off the plane...now remember I'm all sleepy from a 13 hour flight (not to mention transfer times), and no sleep on the cramped plane...so, we get into Venice and I'm surrounded by women all wearing Gucci...and my FIRST thought is, 'Man! These folks are swanky!' and then my NEXT thought was '...Wait a minute here....' And soon I realized that most of the stuff I was looking at was FAKE! EVERYWHERE! and the tourists were snatching it up! It was crazy!
Ugh.. we went on a trip to Nassau Bahamas recently. A group of us decided to go shopping "downtown". I heard about some fabulous shops, Rolex, Fendi, Bally.. etc. & was so excited to check it out. Well, imagine my horror when not 2 blocks from the AUTHENTIC shops, were rows & rows, even actual STORES selling nothing but counterfeit merchandise. I was:yucky: They were all near the water & the ports where the cruise ships come in, so you can put 2 and 2 together. My friends couldn't understand my disgust & I went on my little "anti-fake" speech & why people shouldn't buy them. They all kind of looked at me, smiled & nodded (secretly thinking I'm WAY to sensitive about it, I'm sure...) It takes 2 to tango, I blame both the sellers & buyers! That's what keeps this crap in circulation.
Primarily, I blame the governments of the countries where counterfeit manufacture is legal. I also blame the manufacturers.

Whether I blame the sellers, as well, depends on whether they have the option to do something legal, rather than selling fake bags, or not and whether they are trying to scam their buyers, by telling them that the the bags are real, or not.

In the case you gave, in Greece, I do not blame the sellers at all; as I feel that they have no choice and have to try to survive, somehow.

Of course, someone shouldn't, intentionally, put themselves in a situation where they can't legally support themselves. But many of these poor people have escaped from corrupt regimes, where they would have run the risk of torture, or even death, if they had stayed. :sad: