Have you been weighing the pros and cons of buying designer knockoffs during your next trip to China? It’s a popular tourist thing to do and you can get many label lookalikes there but here’s my humble suggestion – don’t do it.
First, haggling with vendors who don’t speak your language fluently is a highly advanced skill, not an effortless art. Also, when everything is said and done, the effort and time invested to own that fake “7 For All Mankind” jeans, “Louis Vitton” handbag or “Rolex” watch just really isn’t worth it.
The items may look good from afar but are far from good in reality. Besides, nine times out of 10, you aren’t really fooling anybody!
When I visited China, I decided to see what their thriving knockoff industry was all about. But I didn’t do my research at Han City, Qipu Lu, Hongqiao New World Pearl market or any of the numerous other venues you often read or hear about. I made an unscheduled stop in Beijing that you will never see on an official map or tour itinerary.
Some group members and I visited one of those shops that was clandestinely located down several steps, around a few corners and set behind a green tarpaulin entrance tucked far, far away. If you asked me to identify the place 30 minutes after I left it, I wouldn’t have been able to find it on my own. It was a highly mobile operation run by a well-oiled relay system.
This is how it worked. Our bus driver made a call before approaching the drop-off location. The tour guide then walked us to a point where we were met by a liaison who led us to the designated establishment. Immediately afterwards, said liaison disappeared. I can’t verify this but I got the hair-on-the-back-of-my neck feeling there were ‘lookouts” in the operation network as well.
Someone I kept in touch with had problems with some impromptu watch purchases almost right away. The first sign of trouble was the constant need to replace batteries because the knockoffs stopped working regularly. Eventually, rust and corrosion set in.
I also know someone else who bought handbags for herself and a work colleague and the linings began stripping in no time. So why bother?
There are several great shopping options in China and truthfully, the indigenous finds are far more unique and memorable. You can look out for:
– silk products like scarfs, pyjamas or ties
– jade jewelry
– great teas and tea pots
– calligraphy and scroll paintings
I recommend getting creative with your shopping list when you travel. Why spend money on items you can get at home?
What do you think? Have you come across any truly unique shopping items on any of your trips? Please share!