Monday, February 23, 2015

COUNTERFEIT COACH PURSE COLLAGES

COUNTERFEIT EDUCATION:

Although we do not authenticate or allow Coach products at Wolff's Flea Market, we enjoy analyzing a never-ending supply of counterfeit samples that we and our vendors find at garage sales, thrift shops, storage lockers, purse parties, Location X (not us) and even the garbage. 

Many thanks to our wonderful, educated vendors who donate their finds to the counterfeit education cause. 

*COUNTERFEITING IS ILLEGAL. IMAGES SHOWN FOR PURPOSES OF EDUCATION AND DISCUSSION. TRADEMARKS BELONG TO INDIVIDUAL HOLDERS. COUNTERFEIT MERCHANDISE IS NOT ALLOWED AT WOLFF'S FLEA MARKET.
NOT SO PRETTY IN PINK

DID THE ORIGINAL MANUFACTURER OR SELLER REALLY THINK THEY COULD PASS THIS OFF AS REAL
"BECAUSE IT HAS A SEWN LABEL WITH SERIAL NUMBERS?" TOO BAD THEY FORGOT TO PUT SPACES BETWEEN THE WORDS...

3 COMPONENTS OF ANALYSIS: A CHECKLIST FOR COUNTERFEIT MERCHANDISE ASSESSMENT

By Sharon Wolff
Wolff's Flea Market 2015

A useful guide when needing to determine merchandise if appropriate and/or authentic.
This checklist was first presented at a counterfeit training round-table discussion at the National Flea Market Association 2015 Conference in Las Vegas.

We are not lawyers and are not offering legal advice. Research is ongoing. if you would like a PDF file of this checklist, please email wolffsflea@aol.com or call 847-524-9590


IT IT'S NOT ONE THING, IT'S ANOTHER



WOLFF'S FLEA MARKET: PHONE ACCESSORIES SALES INFORMATION

NEW MERCHANDISE SELLERS PLEASE READ: WE ARE SEVERELY RESTRICTING THE SALES OF COMPATIBLE APPLE/SAMSUNG/MOBILE PHONE ACCESSORIES

Due to the popularity and exclusivity of Apple/Samsung products, several versions of trademark infringing and counterfeit chargers, cables, cases, earbuds, packaging and other accessories exist online and from wholesalers. Like designer purses, smart phone accessory brands have fallen prey to counterfeiters. 
While we have not encountered all of the brands listed below, we know counterfeit versions are already available online and have been seized at various coastal locations. Like a slowly spreading virus, they may (will) be coming to Chicago... To manage the outbreak, we routinely research and inspect popular accessories. We appreciate the cooperation of vendors, wholesalers and customers as we, along with the rest of the world continue to address the problem. 

Currently counterfeited cell phone accessory brands: To date, we have seen counterfeit versions of the following brands circulating in the Chicago and Indiana areas: Otterbox LifeProof, designer logos, Apple, Samsung Galaxy, professional sports team logos, popular licensed cartoon characters, Hello Kitty, Speck. We are on the lookout for other brands as well.  As of now, we are sorry to say that because of counterfeiting, Otterbox, LifeProof and Samsung branded cases are not allowed to be sold at our markets unless you have received prior approval, merchandise inspection and proof of a legitmate, realistic source

Realize that it is possible for used or new "onesie" authentic high-end cases to legitimately cycle into the flea marketplace. These would be allowed on a case-by-case basis (no pun intended). In some situations, receipts may be required. Many generic non-infringing items are also acceptable, but this is a complicated situation. We must take it upon ourselves to analyze various parameters and make final decisions as to the appropriateness of individual products. While we are not legal or trademark experts, we consistently study this ever-changing, developing situation and frequently update our own guidelines. Also realize that what may have been acceptable last week may be banned next week or in the future. We reserve the right to require that your product be removed. We reserve the right to photograph your product for training purposes.

Please call with questions. Ask before you buy phone accessories (or any other new popular merchandise for resale)! Your wholesaler, local small store or online seller may stock a mixture of acceptable and unacceptable product. Beware of anyone, anywhere who offers you a "cheap buy" on high-end cases (or any other type of licensed, trademarked items). If the deal seems too good to be true...the items may be counterfeit. 

Related Wolff's Flea Market Blog articles: 
We sound tough, but it's the law /policy and we work diligently to uphold it.
Unsure about your product? Please call 847-524-9590 to see if it is acceptable to us. While we are not experts, we conduct ongoing research in an attempt to keep up with current product news. We MAY be able to answer some of your questions, however YOU are ultimately responsible for authenticating your own merchandise and we cannot be held responsible. If we are in doubt about something you are selling, we often ask you to put it away until further proof of authenticity or research about that item has been presented. Occasionally, we may require that you show us appropriate receipts. (FYI-handwritten receipts or receipts from some websites, local wholesalers or independently owned stores stores are NOT acceptable)

Be aware that WHOLESALERS (online or certain actual stores in the city), resale shops, thrift stores, garage sales, "a guy", storage sheds, bulk lots and online stores (e.g. eBay, Amazon, importers, Craigslist), while offering seemingly good resale opportunities are not necessarily legitimate ways to obtain licensed/trademarked/genuine merchandise. If it's too good to be true-it may not be real. Please be careful when purchasing even 1 type of new or used high-end item. When in doubt, we reserve the right to not allow you to sell it. Read our blog posts on this topic HERE and HERE 

Two Kinds of Counterfeit

We look for what is easiest explained as "2 types of counterfeit products". Although we are not lawyers or experts on everything, we share with you our ongoing research.

Further Reading:
Trademark Law
Trademark Dilution
Trademark Dilution Article

1. OUTRIGHT COUNTERFEIT ITEMS Are cheaply and mass produced and claim to be the authentic product. Logos, trademarks, words, patterns, labels and images are copied and represented as real. Counterfeit products are illegal and banned at Wolff's Flea Market.

*Even if you say "This is not a real_______", it is illegal to sell.
*Even if you sell it for cheap, it is illegal to sell.
*Even if it is ugly, gross, broken, it is illegal to sell.
*Even if your customer still wants to buy it, it is illegal to sell.
*Even if you didn't know, it is illegal to sell.
*New or used, if it's fake you cannot sell it.

Example: Pictured is a counterfeit Monster Fox Racing t-shirt found at a street kiosk while on vacation. The shirt label indicates that it was made using a generic brand of t-shirt blanks. The neck tag reads "Made in China".  It is not licensed by Fox or Monster. There are no authentic licensed manufacturer's tags.





2. TRADEMARK DILUTION: Items bearing a "look alike" or otherwise CONFUSINGLY SIMILAR logo, design, pattern, etc. that resembles but does not exactly match the authentic version. It makes you think on first or second glance that you are being presented with an authentic product. Diluted products can often be easily spotted. At times, the concept of "CONFUSINGLY SIMILAR" can be subject to non-measurable, subjective opinion. However many court cases have been won over "Trademark Dilution". We reserve the right to forbid items we deem to be trademark dilution. We apply this concept to merchandise in all categories: clothing, electronics, purses, etc.

Examples: Diluted logos found in other places during my secret shopper outings. You may think these diluted logos are humorous, but there is nothing funny about it to us!

Images are for discussion and educational purposes only.


THESE SOCKS ARE "QUICK-LOOK FAKES" AND DO NOT BEAR THE AUTHENTIC NIKE SWISH

ALTHOUGH THESE "G STYLE" PURSES DO NOT CLAIM TO BE THE GUESS BRAND,
THE G PATTERN IS CONFUSINGLY SIMILAR AND WE DO NOT ALLOW IT


ALTHOUGH THE MW PATTERN IS NOT CLAIMING TO BE MICHAEL KORS, THE OVERALL DESIGN, COLOR SCHEME AND REPRESENTATION IS INITIALLY CONFUSINGLY SIMILAR.
WE DO NOT ALLOW THIS TO BE SOLD.

LOOK CLOSELY, THESE ARE NOT ADIDAS SOCKS. 
MISSPELLING OR PURPOSEFUL MISREPRESENTATION?




Thursday, February 19, 2015

THE HAUL OF SHAME COUNTERFEIT MUSEUM

A ONE OF A KIND FLEA MARKET MUSEUM!

By Sharon Wolff

Images and counterfeit products shown for purposes of education and discussion. 
We are not lawyers and are not offering legal advice. 
Research and education is ongoing.
Location:
Inside Wolff's Flea Market
1775 N. Rand Rd.
Palatine, IL 60074
Phone: 847-524-9590
Hours: Saturdays & Sundays 8am-4pm
Check back for changing displays!
A SMALL, BUT MIGHTY USEFUL COUNTERFEIT DISPLAY



THESE COUNTERFEIT ITEMS WERE BROUGHT TO THE 2015 NATIONAL FLEA MARKET ASSOCIATION CONFERENCE IN LAS VEGAS  AT NEW YORK, NEW YORK HOTEL AS PART OF WOLFF'S FLEA MARKET EDUCATIONAL PRESENTATION


WATCH OUR "BE A COUNTERFIGHTER" MOVIE HERE:
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=5U_u7GLWYBw

BUY SAFELY, SELL SAFELY: AVOIDING COUNTERFEIT MERCHANDISE

First Published on fleamarketzone.com and Merchandiser Magazine


Buy Safely, Sell Safely: Avoiding Counterfeit Merchandise
January 26, 2015 by publisher
Filed under FeaturedHow-To ZoneShare on facebook
By Sharon Wolff, Media and Merchandise Consultant to Wolff’s Flea Market
CounterfeitNote: We recognize the Merchandiser Magazines commitment as a reliable source for wholesaler connections. Information in this article reflects experiences, conclusions, logic, hunches and opinions of Wolff’s Flea Market. It is not intended to be legal advice. We are not lawyers or trademark experts. Ongoing research is collected from a variety of sources. Trademarks and brand names mentioned in this article are depicted for purposes of education, example and discussion and belong to individual holders. The sale of counterfeit, copyright/trademark-infringing merchandise is illegal and banned at Wolff’s Flea Market. Flea markets owners have been held legally liable for the sales of counterfeit products at their venues.
Counterfeiting is a huge worldwide problem. Although fakes might end up on a flea market table, they did not originate there! They came from somewhere else—a source. We aim to educate and empower our clientele into making safe purchasing decisions. Here, I will introduce a few quick tips and tools for avoiding obtaining counterfeit products for resale. As a seller, you must do your own research and learn to ask your own questions. Hopefully, by the end of this article, my fellow vendors will acquire a few usable tips on how to analyze the sources of their products.
Counterfeits continually evolve into more authentic looking versions. Newly counterfeited brands and labels are regularly introduced to the online and wholesale marketplace. Unfortunately, consumer demand for low cost look-alike versions of high-end designer and name brand products remains high. One needs only to perform a Google search to find thousands of news articles and warnings related to the dangers and prevalence of counterfeits.
CounterfeitLocal, governmental, private and international authorities work with trademark holders to combat counterfeits at all levels along the supply chain. However only a small percentage is effectively found and seized as it enters our country at ports and borders. According to a CBS News report, only two percent of incoming cargo containers are inspected at ports. This leaves the rest of all types of illegal counterfeit merchandise to wind its way into the consumer supply chain-USA importers, distributors, mall kiosks, auctions, purse parties, wholesalers and unchecked/independently owned stores, etc. that might ultimately sell to flea market vendors.
I sometimes refer to flea markets as a “final buffet” in the economic chain of counterfeit sales. While raids, arrests and sentencing occur as related to counterfeits seized at customs, online sites or stores, flea market vendors are publicly vulnerable because they sell their wares out in the open at highly trafficked venues.
There are three components of analysis that we recommend using when figuring out if the merchandise is counterfeit or not. Applying one or more of these overlapping concepts may assist a reseller in analyzing his or her potential merchandise. Sometimes, just one component will tell the story and, “if it’s not one thing, then it’s another.”
Suspect Categories:
We recommend that everyone become aware of at least eight in-demand consumer categories.
• Electronics
• Purses
• CD’s/DVD’s
• Clothing
• Perfume and Cosmetics
• Jewelry and Sunglasses
• Toys
• Licensed sports apparel
Suspect Brands:
Successful vendors seek what their customers desire. However, a pitfall with seeking cheap prices on popular brands is that these same brands are at risk for being counterfeited.
• Logos: familiarize yourself with sports team and a variety of designer logos
• Brand names: know brand names so you can tell the difference between generic, compatible and designer graphics and trademarks
• Popular and Vulnerable Designers: sellers need to know the top designer brands that are counterfeited. Wolff’s keeps a database of over one hundred vulnerable brands. For example, we recommend sellers should at least recognize the logos and names of designers and brands like Coach, Louis Vuitton, Gucci, Chanel, Prada, The North Face, OtterBox, Apple, Samsung, Hello Kitty, Disney and sports teams. A seller should then be suspicious if offered a deal or quantity of one of these brands
• News: follow local and international news stories on busts, arrests, trademark lawsuits and sentencing as related to counterfeits
• Pay attention to region or market: products and brands may vary depending upon local customers, so learn your population and adjust your need for knowledge accordingly
Parameters:
These are a few specifics to look out for when looking at new merchandise that could be counterfeit.
• Price: be suspicious if the offered price it is too good to be true
• Packaging: is it cheap, blank or different from the authentic version?
• Spelling: misspellings on packaging and tags are a giveaway that the item is a fake
• Quality: poor quality on a supposed high-end item indicates that it is fake-bad stitching, broken seams.
• Quantity: be suspicious of a high quantity of a current, popular name brand item
• Source: a “guy” or an anonymous Internet wholesaler could be suspicious
• Comparison to real item: visit retail stores to study authentic products
• Realistic Availability: is it realistic for your source to legitimately offer this brand, type or quantity of item to you?
• Existence factor: the fact that the item exists in a nontraditional or unauthorized location
Now that you know a few ways to identify counterfeit sources and products, we wish you happy shopping and happy selling!

12 MOST IMPORTANT TIPS FOR BECOMING A SUCCESSFUL FLEA MARKET VENDOR

First published: 12 MOST IMPORTANT

12 Most Important Tips For Becoming A Successful Flea Market Vendor

12 Most Important Tips For Becoming A Successful Flea Market Vendor
As a flea market owner, my expertise is running the entire operation, rather than selling the merchandise. However, interacting with both sellers and customers for over 20 years has given me a unique perspective on what makes a successful flea market vendor. Below are 12 Tips for Becoming a Successful Flea Market Vendor.

1. Attractive display

It’s hard to sell items if customers don’t look at your merchandise. If they don’t see it, you don’t sell it! An attractive display does not necessarily mean that it should be an organized, professional or expensive display. In my opinion it depends on the merchandise and/or your strategy. I’ve seen both ways work very effectively. The important thing is to get customers to look at your merchandise. I’ve seen vendors who sell estate or “storage war” merchandise simply put random boxes on the ground with some intriguing or eye catching merchandise on the top. These vendors quickly attract dozens of customers trolling through their merchandise in hopes of snagging the ultimate flea market find in a haphazard collection. Conversely, I’ve seen pristine, neat displays that hid merchandise in a way that no one could easily see it or interact with it and thus not purchase it. Please note that if you sell certain high-end items or food, I would definitely make my display clean and organized.

2. Your “seller’s personality”

Don’t scare away customers. You need to balance your sellers’ persona between passive and aggressive. If you are too loud and pushy in your sales techniques, you could drive customers away. On the other hand, if someone seems interested in an item but starts to walk away, there is no harm in trying to save the sale. If you have room in the price, maybe you can get them back by offering them a better price. Or maybe you can add an interesting tidbit about the item or point out a similar product?

3. Be nice

You want your patrons to like you. This seems like a no brainer, but one that many vendors ignore. Be friendly; engage customers in conversations on subjects that have nothing to do with your merchandise. If someone is wearing a Cubs jersey, start talking about the Cubs. I have often been suckered into buying merchandise simply because I liked the vendor and felt awkward leaving without making a purchase. If you get a nasty customer, avoid arguments. As a flea market owner, I have occasionally asked vendors with repeated customer relation issues to leave.

4. Change your display

The same display is a boring display, so shake it up a little! We operate an outdoor market in the parking lot of an indoor arena. Years ago, once a season, we shared the lot with a carnival. On those days we needed to reconfigure the market and move the location of the assigned regular spaces. Many reserved vendors told me they sold merchandise that they were never able to move. My theory is that customers who were used to seeing the same merchandise in the same space were now viewing the items from a different perspective, as if they had never seen it before. This lesson can be extrapolated to your normal display; move things around, change things up. Customers will discover merchandise that you always have had out if you rotate the location, placing different items at floor level, eye level, etc. To me this is one of the common elements to all of the successful vendors I have seen over the years.

5. Change your merchandise

Consistently give your customer something different to purchase. It is amazing how many first-time vendors who come to our market have incredible days. Their second and third day is pretty good too. By the fourth day, their sales slow down. They then tell me how good the market use to be, but is now not so good. I ask them, have you purchased any new merchandise? I actually don’t have to ask the question, because I know the answer. Their stock of good merchandise is gone. The successful vendor is not only restocking base merchandise, but also constantly trying new offerings.

6. Know what your customers want

Many successful vendors know what their customers want. One of my vendors sells food products. He knows I love a certain cheese wafer. He knows that when he is purchasing his stock if he sees this product he has a large sale because I will buy his entire stock of this item. Many collectible dealers know what their regular customers collect. If they are out purchasing their merchandise, they keep this in mind and pick up items they can sell to these customers

7. Price reasonably

Don’t try and be greedy. It is much better to sell 500 items at a $1 profit than 100 items at a $2 profit. This rule would apply to merchandise you can easily replenish. In general more successful vendors have more attractive prices and are constantly replenishing their stock. If an item isn’t moving, lower the price even if you are going to take a loss. It doesn’t make sense to keep it around taking up valuable sales space.

8. Watch other successful vendors

It is easy to spot the successful vendor. They are the ones who always have a large crowd around their booth. Take the time to watch them. There is no better place to learn successful techniques.

9. Find a good product and become an expert

Know your stuff. You could be the best salesperson in the world, but if you are selling a product that is not desirable, you will not do well. You also have to have enough products to make it worth you while. I’ve come across vendors who have not had enough merchandise on their table to pay their rent. Know your product. Become an expert. If you can extol the benefits of your merchandise you will sell more.

10. A bad weather day can be your friend

Believe it or not–a thunderstorm can be help your sales. This advice is for vendors who sell at outdoor flea markets. Many sellers have told me they have their best sales days when the weather is not the best. Why? If it is raining in the morning, many vendors choose to stay at home. The professional vendors will still set up because they know that when the weather breaks, the customers will start to flow in. The vendors who are still there will enjoy much less competition for these customers’ dollars. The customers who do come out on these days are usually the die-hards who like spending their money.

11. Social media

Join the social media band wagon. If the flea market that you are attending is involved in social media, make full use of their facebook, twitter and other relevant sites to offer your own discounts, coupons and also to promote your merchandise. What’s best about this is that your posts and interactions are free advertising for you and the market! Many markets have hundreds if not thousands of regular customers who follower their media sites. If the market you attend does not use social media, encourage them to enter the 21st century.

12. Free advertising

Nothing beats free publicity. One of the top online sites to get free advertising is Craigslist. If you have a particular item for sale, you may find that no one attending the market seems to be interested in it. Why not expand your reach to the multitude of people visiting Craigslist? These people search Craigslist specifically for your type of item. Simply take a picture, add a description and price and list the address and hours of the flea market you are attending. If you mention your ad to market managers, they may even allow you to add a free admission coupon to your listing.
Most of these helpful business tips can be transferred to other ventures. Many successful vendors have eventually gone on to open thriving retail operations.