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There were some significant busts in the 1990s, and more recently in May, when a couple was arrested and fined $26 million for selling counterfeit goods.
During the early years, many vendors were still hawking their fake purses, wallets, scarves and accessories at their storefronts.To make extra money to help pay for my own shopping habits, not to mention the costs of raising me, my dad would pay street vendors thirty to fifty dollars for a fake Rolex Submariner, Cartier, Daytona or Explorer watch and resell each for three to five times as much to some of the wealthy tenants in the building where he worked.Sure, these well-to-do men, who often appeared in the Beverly Hills society pages, already had the real thing locked away in their safes.He was a designer and knew all of the good spots to shop in the area.We lost track of Tito Nap over the years, but heard from another family member that he died of AIDS some time ago.They have probably sold my father hundreds of cologne bottles from their store on South Santee Street. I called 911, and within five minutes, paramedics arrived. Doctors performed an emergency stent operation, and after a week in recovery, he suffered a second major heart attack.
With such a small family to speak of, I have always held my friendships close. As I sat in his room in the hospital’s intensive care unit, he flatlined twice, but was brought back to life by the electric shock from an atrial defibrillator.
But sometimes, as they would tell my dad, these men preferred to wear a fake version without worrying about being robbed or damaging the genuine one.
Many were more than willing to shell out $150 for the replica.
Today, trendy tops hang from the stores – midriffs, flowery boho prints, skin-tight clubbing dresses and shirts with “I’m not a shopaholic. The clothes, for the most part, sell for twenty dollars or less and resemble many of the brand-name labels women pay twice the price for at local malls.
Sweaty men stand on small stools above the crowd yelling, “Ladies, come here!
I got ten-dollar bags,” while a petite woman holds up an ad: five pairs of colored contact lenses for twenty bucks.