By Meaghan Brophy
As a vendor, staying on top of the trends and providing in-demand products for your customers is the name of your game. However, it is becoming increasingly apparent that just because an item is popular, does not mean it is safe. There have been rising reports of hoverboards catching fire and exploding. There have also been recent reports of United States Customs and Border Protection seizing entire shipments and warehouses full of hoverboards because of their fake trademarks and unauthorized batteries. In addition to larger retailers such as Amazon and Target pulling hoverboards from their shelves and sites, markets such as Wolff’s Flea Markets have also banned the devices. Wolff’s recently issued a press release stating, “At this time, there are no safe or legitimate hoverboards.
Hoverboards are not the only item prohibited from Wolff’s Flea Markets due to safety and trademark concerns. All counterfeit goods and parody merchandise are prohibited from the market. “We want our vendors to sell as much as possible, while keeping everyone safe,” says Sharon Wolff, Creative Media and Merchandise Consultant to Wolff’s Flea Markets. To reinforce this rule, all booths at Wolff’s Flea are regularly inspected for knowingly and unknowingly counterfeit merchandise. In addition to the government cracking down on counterfeit and unauthorized products, brands that are being imitated are also filing lawsuits against both individual vendors and markets.
Over the past several years, Coach®, in particular has won or settled several cases, winning millions of dollars with each settlement. In today’s world where trends rise and fall seemingly overnight, safety and trademark regulations are hard pressed to keep up. As a vendor, you are in a position to make judgment calls when selecting which goods to sell. Wolff’s recommends all vendors practice caution when purchasing products, and have released the following guideline to assist vendors in making sound business decisions:
• 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, etc.
• 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.
Wolff‘s Flea Markets
6920 North Mannhein Road
Rosemont, IL 60018
1775 N. Rand Road
Palatine, IL 60074