A Manhattan councilwoman plans to curb the sale of counterfeit handbags in her Chinatown district not by punishing those who peddle them, but by penalizing those who purchase them.
City Councilwoman Margaret Chin plans to introduce the bill Thursday. Under the proposed law, fake handbag buyers would be slapped with a $1,000 fine or face up to a year in jail if police catch them in the transaction.
The proposed bill was first reported by The New York Post.
Chin says her district has become overrun by the sale of fake Louis Vuitton, Gucci and other designer handbags – and the ever-increasing numbers of tourists flocking to the Canal Street area in search of a cheap buy only extend the reach of the underground market.
“It’s a very big problem,” Chin told the Post. “People are still coming, and the industry is growing, and we have to stop the demand. We need people to know that they are feeding this demand.”
Signs warning potential customers about the fines and/or jail time associated with buying phony bags would be prominently posted near prime counterfeit locations in the district, Chin said.
The proposed legislation states the low price and location should be a dead giveaway to potential buyers that bags are counterfeit, and, if they purchase the bags knowing that, they become complicit in the gimmick and should be penalized.
Not surprisingly, bargain shoppers balked at the proposed legislation.
“I’ll take a risk and sacrifice to look good and pay less,” Christine Gambino, 21, of Staten Island, who vowed to continue trekking to Chinatown for good deals, told the Post.