Unfortunate Consequences of Selling Counterfeit Goods


The Pendergrass Flea Market experienced a counterfeit goods bust on April 18, 2021. First story is available here, if you want to read before continuing. The aftermath was not expected by many. Two weeks later, on May 1, vendors arrived at the market thinking it was going to be like any other weekend, but noticed some vendors had yellow letters on their gates. The ones who received the yellow letters were the vendors that were given written warnings and fines from the Department of Homeland Security on April 18.

The yellow letters were termination letters from the market. Vendors that received the notices rushed down to the market’s office and demanded explanations. The manager explained to them, “the letters were given to those who broke flea market guidelines.” People fought back by saying they had only gotten a warning, and DHS had told them that they were fine because it was their first offense. The manger told them, “DHS has no say in what we do with our rental booths, and they were the ones who gave us the information about who got written warnings.”

DHS gave the market the information about who had illegal counterfeit items and they made it clear to both parties that it was just warnings, but for it not to happen again because the market would get sued for allowing vendors to continue selling counterfeit items. The market decided to terminate vendors who had warnings from DHS because they did not want to risk the market being sued.

Vendors found this unfair because the market did not have to remove vendors that received a warning from DHS. They did it because it was an easy “fix” to the problem. Many of them were fined and had their merchandise confiscated. They lost a lot of money and were hoping to make it back by continuing to sell at the market. Management took this opportunity away from them.

Jay Kim was a vendor that was fined and had some merchandise confiscated, so it gave him a total loss of at least $10,000. Kim said, “I was really upset when they took my merchandise and gave me a fine of $5,000, but come on, now I have to remove all my remaining items by the end of Sunday, and I can’t make no more money here.” The termination they received said it was permanent, therefore, they would never be allowed to sell at the market again. According to Kim, it was his only stream of income because he can’t have a regular job since he has a back problem. He was not the only one impacted, many others also lost their only income.

Seven Chen said, “it’s all so messed up because when I signed up to be a vendor at the market, they were not clear about the guidelines or what can be sold at the market.” He said, “Why should we be responsible for the market not being responsible since the beginning?” According to Chen, when he became a vendor the only thing, they told him was to not sell anything illegal or drugs at his booth, but they did not explain what they meant by illegal.

Over 50 vendors were terminated and by the next weekend those empty spots were taken up by new vendors. It’s been over six months since DHS has done an official search again. Throughout those months, vendors and workers say they have noticed “weird” people asking them suspicious questions or acting strange because they seem like they are trying too hard to blend in with everyone else. There are rumors that DHS will do annual inspections. Vendors believe that is too predictable so now they are more cautious of what they sell because they cannot afford fines or losing their businesses.