Tuesday, August 15, 2017

Wolff's Flea Market Bans Sales of Eclipse Glasses

Today we sent a special edition email.

Subject: Banned at Wolff's - Eclipse Glasses

  • Everyone is excited about the upcoming eclipse on Monday August 21, 2017. However we extend this warning to our clientele:
  • Beware of counterfeit eclipse viewing glasses! •Due to recent news regarding this issue, Wolff's Flea Market is BANNING ALL SALES OF SOLAR ECLIPSE VIEWING GLASSES.
  • Counterfeit glasses can cause eye damage.
  • It is unspeakable to think that counterfeiters would sell something dangerous in order to make a few measly dollars. Vendors and customers do not be tempted to purchase even if someone claims them to be "certified or real."
  • You do this at your own health risk. We are not authorized to determine authenticity and will be making our best effort this weekend to educate and remove from market. If you see someone with these glasses please note space number and call or text 847-524-9590.
  • Remember that counterfeits are illegal and dangerous counterfeits are even worse!

Wolff's Flea Market


Friday, July 7, 2017


By Sharon Wolff

Wolff's Flea Market is a leader in the swap meet industry for policy, research and education regarding counterfeit merchandise. Counterfeits are an ongoing worldwide concern, and wholesalers, flea markets, internet sources, small brick & mortar stores, mall kiosks, individuals, guys on the corner etc. are vulnerable and liable for selling fake merchandise. 

We monitor hundreds of brands in all categories along many parameters. We have spent years developing our Merchandise Patrol program and employ a fantastic team of patrollers, also known as Counterfighters. It is not an exact science, and we rely upon ongoing research and news stories to assist us in our quest. While we want our vendors to make money and sell their products, we do not tolerate counterfeit products and aim to Prevent-Intervene-Educate

During our routine patrols around the flea market, we sometimes encounter banned or counterfeit merchandise. Did you know that Chicago is the 3rd biggest US hub for counterfeit products? (Los Angeles and New York are ahead of us). So, it is not surprising that fakes are evident in several Chicagoland venues in small to larger numbers. 

Our first goal is to EDUCATE our vendors in order to keep our customers, vendors and market safe from counterfeits. 

Please click here see the FULL LIST OF MERCHANDISE RULES and an example of our Informational Pink Slip. is given to vendors as information and also as an expansion of our rules. It is updated as new information is revealed as a result of our ongoing research. 



By Sharon Wolff
Original post 9/28/11. Revised 1/12,  2/6/12, 9/10/12, 1/27/13, 7/6/17, 3/19/2021

Please always go to wolffs.com for the most updated information

Wolff's Flea Market is vigilant about inspecting merchandise at every booth, every week. If we talked to you last week or 2 weeks ago, we may talk to you again this week about the same or different items you are selling.  Please realize we mean no disrespect to you, nor are we singling you out from other vendors. It is our job to ensure that the merchandise offered at Wolff's Flea Market is in accordance to our rules, Rosemont/Palatine rules, and state and federal laws. So please, if you see a staff person lingering over an item on your table, or if you are questioned about your merchandise, do not take offense. We try to speak respectfully to you, and hope you can return the favor. When in doubt, we may ask you to remove a certain type of merchandise, or even request receipts from you.

While we are not perfect and cannot claim to know every detail about every type of item-we are open to engaging in productive, educational conversation, especially on the subject of possible counterfeit merchandise. We are lucky to have professional sources at our disposal and have also amassed a small number of people who can unofficially answer our questions about certain types of products. We may ask that you remove an item until we can verify more information at a future date. If we cannot verify more information, then it will need to be permanently removed.

We are aware that counterfeit merchandise exists world-wide, costing legitimate manufacturers millions of dollars of revenue each year, as well as funding illicit trade and deplorable working conditions. The fight against counterfeiting is ongoing and a seemingly endless list of products is affected. Unfortunately, flea markets across the country have received negative press for raids and arrests related to counterfeit merchandise.

Maybe you didn't know that what you are selling is counterfeit or not allowed. While we would love to give everyone the benefit of the doubt, at the same time, it's important for any questionable or banned items to be removed immediately and permanently from public availability.

It's outlandish how accessible counterfeit merchandise is over the internet from so-called “wholesalers”. Just google the topic and you will find numerous websites offering high end designer and other licensed goods. We find it appalling that overseas countries offer fake designer goods on the premise that they are quality and legal.  Read their descriptions; they actually seem to be bragging about replica and fake products. Even if they don’t indicate that it is fake-the awful grammar and spelling is a tell-tale (and humorous) clue that what you are buying is not real. Federal and international agencies work to shut down these websites but it is an ongoing process, and you, as a buyer and reseller-MUST BEWARE! Always keep in mind that if a bulk deal on any type of licensed, trademarked, designer, etc. goods seems too good to be true-it is! Just don’t get yourself fooled into thinking that what you order online is legal or real. Chances are, the website has not yet been caught and shut down. We don’t know how this part of the process works, but please for your own good, just stay away from such deals.

Sorry, but the same rules apply to your purchases of licensed or designer items from a wholesaler, even if it appears to be a legitimate brick-and-mortar store. We have seen questionable merchandise that has come from such stores in the city. At this point we do not offer a list of acceptable stores.

Sellers can purchase wholesale merchandise from the Midwest Merchandiser catalog.
"The Merchandiser Group magazines bring you coast-to-coast coverage of the Flea Market and Swap Meet industry. Each monthly issue is packed with sources of wholesale merchandise as well as articles bringing you the inside scoop on how to prosper in the fascinating world of flea markets and swap meets." Source: Sumner Communications, Inc.

Used and pre-owned counterfeit items cycle their way into garage sales, resale store and thrift shops. Private individuals and both for profit and non-for profit shops have not been targeted by officials, probably because of the small number of used items that trickle in. Official investigations seem to focus on new items, sellers, wholesalers and the manufacturers. However, keep in mind, that although you may think you are getting a great deal on a used designer bag, chances are that it is fake. Even if it is used, or if you have only one item, it is not allowed to be sold at the market.

1. Is is ok to sell a fake item if the seller tells the buyer that it is fake? 
   No! It is illegal to sell counterfeit products.

2. Is it ok to sell my own real purse?
No. There is no way to determine authenticity of many types of items unless a representative of that particular company is present to do so. In some instances, we may accept a receipt that matches the item(s), but some brands are never allowed at the market because we just can't tell for sure that they are real. For us, it is sometimes easier to tell if an item is fake, but not tell if it is real. Some brands that are never allowed: MAC Cosmetics, Dr. Dre headphones or earbuds, Coach, Louis Vuitton, Chanel, Gucci.

3.  Why can't I sell a purse whose logo is similar to the real thing, but is slightly different?
 This is called "Trademark Dilution" and essentially tricks a buyer into thinking they may be buying a designer item. Owners of the trademark believe that dilution diminishes the value of their brand with inferior representation.

For this article, I am using the Louis Vuitton brand as an example for counterfeit and dilution.  The same concept applies to other trademarked brands. I include the logo for educational purposes only and understand that it is owned and copyrighted by Louis Vuitton. 

A genuine Louis Vuitton handbag may cost $1,970 from the official, authorized Louis Vuitton store or website. This price exceeds the budget of most of us regular folk. If you can knowingly or unknowingly buy a fake bag for $35 or even $60, would you? What is wrong with someone wanting to have the "designer look" but not pay the designer price? First of all besides the legal ramifications, the fake bag is of poor quality and will likely begin to quickly degrade-seams will tear, zippers will break. The loss of even $35 is a waste of your hard-earned money. Why not buy a nice no-name leather bag that will look better and last longer? We applaud the vendors who offer these acceptable attractive & quality items.  And what about the naive buyer who actually thinks they are getting a good deal and have been tricked? That's just wrong.

There seems to be a fine line between "designer inspired" and "Trademark Dilution".  Our research continues. Below is an example of trademark dilution.

Think you're looking at a genuine Louis Vuitton item?
 Look again and you will see that the logo
 is actually "LX" and the quatrefoil
 monograms are incorrect.
This is called "Trademark Dilution", and it's illegal.
This is the Louis Vuitton monogram logo.
Even if you don't care about prancing around using a "disposable" purse, the real crux of the matter includes the economic and legal ramifications of buying and selling counterfeit merchandise. I will conclude this article with brief information on these 2 areas and include links for further reading.

Economic: The industries and owners of the trademarked items lose millions of dollars in sales and profit to counterfeiters. Governments lose money enforcing laws related to intellectual property rights.

Legal: Louis Vuitton is actively committed to fighting counterfeit trade. As a result, over 13,000 proceedings and 6000 raids have been launched resulting in the arrest almost 1000 counterfeiters. (Source HERE) This is just one company's process, and many other companies have joined in the fight.

Google the following terms to read more examples and cases related to the legal ramifications of counterfeits: designer handbags, fake purse, counterfeit raid, flea market raid, wholesale designer sunglasses. Please be informed and protect yourselves and your families!

REVISION January 2012: A federal jury has awarded Louis Vuitton has been $3.6 million in a settlement for trademark infringement against a San Antonio flea market for allowing counterfeit items to be sold at their establishment. This landmark case shows that not only are individual sellers liable for counterfeit goods, but also the flea market owners who rent space to them.

The math: 9 infringed trademarks x $4 million per mark = $3.6 million

Sources and Further Reading:
Bogus Goods to cost flea market $3.6 million
Trademark Dilution Revision Act of 2006

No parts of this article may be copied or distributed without permission from Wolff's Flea Market.
Trademarks shown are for educational purposes only and belong to Louis Vuitton. Seriously how else can we educate?

Wednesday, April 19, 2017

Wolff's Flea Market: Lost and Found ... Again!

By Guest Blogger Betsy Fons

When growing up, Gabe Defrates, now a resident of Chicago, used to go to flea markets each Sunday with his Grandfather, Don Bryant. Don passed away in 2006, but Gabe and his grandfather made a new connection this weekend at Wolff’s Flea Market in Palatine.
A vendor at Wolff’s Flea Market came across a framed piece that included pictures of Don with flowers and a holy card from his funeral. Through some online research, a Wolff’s employee was able to find Don Bryant’s daughter in Carbondale, Illinois and inform her that the item somehow appeared at Wolff's Flea Market.  Her nephew, Gabe, came to Palatine to pick up the cherished family piece.
Gabe told us his mother had the memento made after her father’s funeral. When she moved from her home in Elgin, the box containing the piece got mixed up with boxes of items that were given away.  Somehow the item mysteriously made its way to Wolff’s Flea Market in Palatine. Gabe said his family was thrilled to have the piece back, and thought it was so funny and more than appropriate it was reunited with the family through a flea market since that was Don Bryant’s favorite hobby!
Don Wolff, one of the owners of Wolff's Flea Market makes every effort to return items of sentimental value to families whenever possible. Over the years, he has returned an urn of ashes to a family (Video link HERE), a Desert Storm scrapbook to a soldier and many personal photographs.

Now in its 26th year, Wolff’s Flea Market has always been a family friendly flea market, and continues to bring families together in a variety of ways!

Monday, March 13, 2017


By Sharon Wolff

Over the last year, regular exercise has been a very important aspect of my journey into Health and Fitness.

From first-hand experience, when I like my outfit, I feel positively motivated to get out and move. Because honestly, sometimes momentum can be a little challenging. 

Read these articles: 

Does Wearing Fitness Gear REALLY Boost Your Workout Motivation?
Do Your Workout Clothes Actually Affect Your Performance?

Given the technology of performance fabrics, "designer" workout clothing can be pretty pricey. Personally, I don't see the point in paying $40 or more for just the leggings alone. 

Because don't we all know that exercise = sweat? Perhaps this new tech fabric moves the sweat away from your skin and into its magic mesh. But to me - ahem - sweat is sweat - and it is only temporary. I would rather go for quantity and variety in my workout clothing. Then go home and take a shower.

I bought this brand new 2-piece heather design outfit upstairs in Palatine and give it 5 stars in all of my personal categories.

COMFORT:  soft and stretchy
WASHABILITY: wash cold and hang to dry
PRICE: under $20
VERSATILITY: Wear top or bottom as part of your layered fashion look
SIZE; 1 size fits all

Plus, I bought post work out high-protein snacks from our food vendor downstairs.

So, ladies, if you work out, couldn't you use a few extra really cute outfits?

Support small business and get in shape, too! 
Several vendors at Wolff's Flea Market Palatine sell an array of soft, stretchy, comfortable and AFFORDABLE sets.

Friday, February 24, 2017

Flea Market Find: The Ice Saw

We usually don't know what happens to the unique and amazing collectibles purchased at Wolff's Flea Market.

But, thanks to customer Joe V., we have the full picture of the special home of The Ice Saw.

"My thanks to Don at Wolff's Flea Market to help me purchase an Ice Saw for the Barrington History Museum. The Ice Saw will be added to future displays of farm tools and the early tool exhibit currently planned for 2018. 

The saw will also be included in the ice harvesting exhibit loaned to the American Water Works Association museum exhibit at their WaterCon conference in Springfield, IL.

The Barrington History Museum, a not-for-profit, is located at 212 & 218 W. Main in Barrington. It currently is open by request and will reopen with new exhibits on Saturday afternoons starting April 8th, 2017."

Joe V.

Photos Betsy F

Tuesday, January 10, 2017

It's a box! I think? Wait. What is this?

By Guest Blogger Candice lee Conner

Last week, my friend sent me this photo of a very interesting box that had bellows on the side, asking me what in the world this thing was. Surely it's some type of accordion, I thought. But where are the keys to play the music? And why are there a bunch of circles? I consulted the most knowledgeable data base I have in my arsenal - my musical Facebook friends with You Tube as confirmation. 

This, my friends, is Shruti box. The Shruti box's creation was based off the Harmonium, a keyboard instrument in which the sound is produced through reeds and bellows. The more humble shruti box is keyless and was invented so that one could create a perfect droning sound. Pitch controls are on the top or on side.

Today shrutiboxes, or shruti petti, are electronic and have recently been making a come back throughout the world.

There's even an app for that

If you are looking for that unusual gift for a musician friend, the boxes are affordable. You can find older ones on Ebay for $50-$300. Electronic boxes go for $30-$200. 
This one in particular was made by Music International