Friday, February 22, 2013


By Sharon Wolff

I grew up watching Clint Eastwood movies and have been observing his head for two years. Mr. Eastwood resided high upon a shelf in Stan's booth at Wolff's Flea Market, Palatine. He appeared to be a creation by an unknown sculptor that I believe captured his calm and self-confident persona. Just kind of hanging around, perhaps a little dusty as funky like other funky flea market treasures. Just waiting for the right buyer, any buyer. Passers by may or may not have noticed him. But I saw him. In fact he inspired me to create the SIMPLY HEADS facebook photo collection. Every time I passed him, I thought, "Yup, that's Clint, he still there, his fixed stern gaze perhaps guarding Stan's antiques and collectibles booth. No one would mess with Clint Eastwood.

So, imagine my wonder when I saw one of our more colorful shoppers, Mark casually carrying Clint off into the sunset. Well, not really the sunset, just up and down the Palatine aisles and into my field of vision.  I had to get the scoop on this sudden turn of events. It turns out that the buyer liked it, his friend did not. I think Clint will end up at a store in Indiana, hopefully to be adopted by a decorator or lover of the unique. I hope to continue to follow up on Mr. Eastwood final destination.

Oh Clint, how far did you travel to arrive at Wolff's? Who made you? Stan, where did Clint come from? Stan's answer: Some thrift shop in Joliet.

See Clint Eastwood's Wolff's Flea Market debut here: SIMPLY HEADS

Stoic and watchful - Clint Eastwood

Bye Bye Clint Eastwood!

Wednesday, February 20, 2013


 Sharon Wolff
 Quotes from the source:
“The U.S. Customs and Border Protection (CBP) keeps foreign pirated and counterfeit goods from being imported to the United States.”

“The trade in counterfeit and pirated goods threatens America’s innovation economy, the competitiveness of our businesses, the livelihoods of U.S. workers, and, in some cases, national security and the health and safety of consumers. The trade in these illegitimate goods is associated with smuggling and other criminal activities, and often funds criminal enterprises. CBP protects businesses and consumers every day through an aggressive IPR enforcement program. CBP targets and seizes imports of counterfeit and pirated goods, and enforces exclusion orders on patent-infringing and other IPR violative goods.”

That said, we respond with our commentary on the above quotes:
We recognize that CBP seizes an enormous amount of counterfeit goods at the U.S. border. It is both commendable and astounding. Click this link for a list of 2013 busts.
Yet, with no system being 100% perfect, and overseas counterfeit production being rampant, importers and exporters are still able to get past customs to deliver their counterfeit goods in whole and in pieces.

The next time you think you have found a treasure at your
local garage sale or thrift shop, check again for these removable tags
Example: These designer tags and stickers may be ordered separately from several web sources. They arrive from overseas in innocuous packaging that may not be obviously detectable to the CBP. When paired with a “generic blank” purse, a simple, cheap counterfeit purse is created.  Warning:  Do not use this article for instructions on assembling a counterfeit purse! Items are shown for purposes of education and discussion and trademarks belong to the individual companies.   

When counterfeit merchandise is not found and seized at the border, it then continues to cycle through the U.S. economy. First stop, we believe is a local warehouse. Then, on to a wholesaler or wholesale connection, then possibly off to a smaller local brick and mortar store.

At this point the counterfeit goods have now become accessible to the public. “Final” shoppers may buy counterfeit goods directly from these establishments and end the cycle right there. Likewise, smaller resellers, such as flea market vendors are also able to purchase bulk deals in counterfeit merchandise from these stores, individuals or wholesalers. The cycle of “buying for cheap, selling for more” continues as these goods travel from one person and location to the next.

Depending upon their level of experience, awareness and education, flea market vendors may knowingly or unknowingly perpetuate this cycle. The flea market vendor is the smallest businessperson of all, and perhaps the most vulnerable. Goods are out in the open and possibly easy to spot. Consequently, over the years, many flea markets and individuals have been the target of busts for counterfeit merchandise.

We try to stop this cycle on our home front by educating our vendors regarding counterfeit goods, merchandise sources and potential consequences. It is an ongoing effort that involves research, education, intervention and prevention.

Monday, February 11, 2013

National Flea Market Association Conference

Wolff's 2013 NFMA Conference Crew

Wolff's Flea Market is a member of the National Flea Market Association (NFMA). This organization "exists to serve the public interest and to benefit the flea market industry by fostering high standards of business conduct which merits public trust". (

Trademark Panel Discussion
This annual conference is open to the owners, managers and staff of flea markets across America. The conference includes two days of educational sessions led by professionals and market representatives. We were all able to glean information useful
to our businesses regarding social media, 
customer relations, advertising, networking and more. It is a wonderful venue for us to share expertise and experiences. We can always learn from each other!

Flea market lovers can also follow the NFMA facebook fan page HERE

This year, Sharon Wolff was invited to participate in a panel discussion regarding Trademark and Counterfeit issues. Says Sharon, "I was honored to sit on this panel with two other knowledgeable flea market representatives and an attorney versed in Trademark Law. My passion is to educate our vendors regarding counterfeit merchandise and prevent these items from cycling their way into our market. This is an ongoing process of research and education because products and parameters are always evolving."

NFMA Participants Examine Items in The Haul of Shame

Part of Sharon's presentation included selections from the "Haul of Shame". 14  items were set out on a table with labels describing why they were considered counterfeit. "This was an excellent way for people to get a hands-on view of counterfeit products and to spot some common parameters.  Meaningful questions and conversations ensued."

So, until next year-Grab a friend and visit your local flea market! See you at the flea!

Sharon Wolff
Creative Director & Merchandise Consultant at Wolff's Flea Market 
Sharon Wolff of Wolff's Flea Market in Illinois is the Creative Director as well as the Merchandise Consultant for this highly successful flea market.  When Sharon isn't busy handling the day-to-day creative activities of writing newsletters and blogs, taking pictures and creating viral videos or handling social media, she is implementing policies and training staff on identifying counterfeit merchandise.  Whether she is researching counterfeit cases, studying brand websites or reading books on copyright and trademark law, Sharon remains on top of this ever-changing environment. Sharon works diligently to ensure that her business complies with local and federal legal requirements. 

We are honored to have Sharon Wolff join the Trademark/Intellectual Property Law panel to share with other Flea Market owners the best practices for tackling the complexity of Trademark Law, and how owners can implement these practices on their own properties.