Thursday, April 9, 2015

ENTER THE RESEARCH ZONE - TIPS

This educational document was shared with other flea market participants during my round table discussion at the 2015 National Flea Market Association Conference in Las Vegas.

Prologue:
If you read this post, you will understand that we take merchandise research very seriously. Sometimes we can determine that an item is authentic or counterfeit right on the spot or in just a few moments. Other times, we may need to send the item to The Research Zone. This paper offers tips for conducting your own research.

*Remember - we do not authenticate or allow the following brands (new/used/real/fake): Coach, Louis Vuitton, OtterBox, LifeProof, Chanel, Gucci, MAC and sometimes others.

Believe me when I tell you that shopping at the mall for me is completely ruined now. It is no longer a relaxing stroll. It is no longer a place to people watch or look at pretty things just for the heck of it.

I cannot be placed in a retail setting without my Research Zone buzzer awakening my Counterfighter mentality. Invariably, some designer or licensed item grabs my attention and draws me in.

A typical example: I am walking with my family, engaged in conversation, and from afar I see the Journeys sign and their doorway display of Converse Allstars. I craftily duck inside the store because I remember one tiny detail I needed to confirm on the sole of an authentic Chuck Taylor shoe so that I could compare it with something I saw at the market. Observers might find me weird as they watch me pick up the shoe, feel its weight and then rub the sole like a magic lamp... One reason my family doesn't follow me.

They are up ahead looking for ice cream. But before I can catch up, I notice the Lids store and want to confirm a secret bit of New Era authentication information that I may figured out on my own. I won't tell you what it is, but I quizzed myself on a half dozen hats, and felt refreshed and good to go. Yes, it was unusual for someone to be flipping hats willy nilly, but I put them back.

Done and Done.

By now my family has finished their ice cream and is ready to go.



WE AREN’T LAWYERS. THIS IS NOT LEGAL ADVICE. We share with you a few helpful analytical skills, sources & strategies. We do not authenticate designer handbags and ban the sale of certain brands. Your awareness of counterfeit identification can lend credibility to your position.
ENTER THE RESEARCH ZONE-TIPS
WOLFF’S FLEA MARKET 2015

ON THE SPOT ONLINE RESEARCH
  1. Use the Red Laser bar code scanner app on your phone. What comes up? Correct item? Different item? Retail store? Amazon/eBay listing? Numbers? Nothing? Be suspicious if there is no bar code on a package.
  2. Counterfeiters generate & replicate accurate bar codes, so a scan might not tell the whole story
  3. Brand’s official website-does item exist? How much should it (or a comparable item) cost?
  4. Search (BRAND NAME) + COUNTERFEIT, CHEAP, WHOLESALE, REPLICA, etc.
  5. Google search for informational/comparative “guides” regarding commonly counterfeited brands
  6. Search example: “How to tell the difference between real and fake (BRAND NAME)”
NO QUICK ANSWER? GO SHOPPING!
IF IT'S NOT ONE THING,
THEN IT'S ANOTHER
  1. Examine authentic products at retail stores
  2. Take notes on item details, labels, wording, packaging
  3. If comfortable, ask an employee for permission to open a package.
  4. If possible, take pictures
  5. Purchase authentic items for study
  6. Call a brand’s customer service # with questions. This action provides inconsistent results. Answers are only as good as the representative’s ability and willingness to stray from script and connect you to a knowledgeable person. Be patient.
  7. Find a helpful expert, vendor, store manager/employee or brand representative
BUY/BORROW A FAKE FOR STUDY
  1. Online sources that sell real and counterfeit products: eBay, Amazon, craigslist
  2. Do you know of a store that wholesales brand name items to your vendors?
  3. Ask vendor if you can borrow the item in question or pay their cost to obtain for your research (vendors may even give it to you-and of course also remove other offending merchandise).
  4. Purchase counterfeit purses at local thrift shops. Don’t even get us started on this subject...
  5. A nice employee might be willing to go dumpster diving if you promise to bake him chocolate chip cookies.
ONGOING RESEARCH & SEARCH TERMS
  1. Fortunately, you can apply the same parameters to many types of counterfeit merchandise
  2. Unfortunately, you cannot apply the same parameters to all types of counterfeit merchandise
  3. Keep current with news, raids, arrests, trademark lawsuits, popular/in-demand products, brands, logos
  4. Subscribe to Google Alerts for relevant keywords and phrases: (also use as SEARCH TERMS)
  • Counterfeit, arrest, lawsuit + purses, handbag, phone cases, clothing, NFL, MLB, NHL, NBA, etc.
  • Apple, Samsung, other tech or electronic brands
  • Counterfeit, arrest, lawsuit + designers (Coach, Louis Vuitton, Gucci, Chanel, Michael Kors, etc.)
  • Counterfeit + Arrest
  • Counterfeit + flea market, swap meet, store, website, kiosk, customs
  • Ice.gov, Homeland security + counterfeit
  • Lawsuit + counterfeit, trademark, dilution
  • OTHER
HELPFUL INFORMATION/SOURCES/GUIDES
  1. thecounterfeitreport.com
  2. ebay guides
  3. spotfakehandbags.com
  4. ice.gov
  5. iacc.org
  6. uspto.gov
  7. TTAB
  8. ipcybercrime.com
COUNTERFEIT MERCHANDISE SOURCES
Missing here is our directory of known counterfeit sites. We visit those sites for research, but do not feel comfortable publicizing them to the world. Unfortunately they are too easy to find.

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