Monday, November 19, 2007

Handbag Anyone?

This photo was taken near the Uffizi. It shows some knockoff street sellers pulling up their white sheet as some police approach. They look like Santa Claus shuffling down the street with their big sacks. They set up again as soon as the police leave.

I don’t want to imply that these vendors of knockoffs are everywhere, but, they sort of are. There was a crack down this summer on them and then they all came back in the fall. Now there seems to be another crackdown. I suppose the store owners don’t like them, or they cheapen the city, or they are a nuisance, and so on. But for the life of me I can’t understand who buys the stuff? What kind of person? I mean these handbags (in this case) are not even pleasant to look at. (Okay I admit it I’m not a purse-kind-of guy.) And, there are plenty of stores with reasonably priced bags or backpacks. And, they don’t really represent the city or Italy (at least to me). Yes, Italy is known for fashion but why buy a cheap knockoff on the street to celebrate that?

Different nationalities seem to have the market on different items. Chinese sell these origami decorations, Senegalese sell handbags and luggage, Romanians (I think) sell posters, and so on. Beware, because there is a fine for the seller and the buyer of these goods. We haven’t seen anyone get a fine but if you are caught buying a handbag, let’s say, you could pay up to 1,000 Euro we were told. Now that’s an expensive handbag.

We've gotten so used to see these folks that we don't see them at all. Florence is not the only city by far with this issue.


  1. i think the mindset of the vendor is that these vendors target tourists. that can be the only reason. because of the specific vendors in japan or other country you name. since italy = fashion, the vendors think tourists are stupid or just want to say they bought this fendi bag in italy (even tho they may know its a knockoff). or something like that. i know what you mean. i hate the ponte vecchio for that reason. the bridge would be so beautiful if wasn't for these vendors. and the reason store people hate them (justifiably) is that they are selling and making money w/o paying the dues (rent of building, license, etc.). I hate them because they ugly up the street. on the other hand, because i have such strong opinions of them, it would be a good idea to talk to one or two of them to understand their story and their view point before making such a judgement. i've never talked to them, so i dont' think its fair to dislike them (a little discriminate or predjudice on my part). but then again, who is my hate hurtin? nobody right now...

  2. One of our teachers said there was once a conference organized (by a professor at a local university) to meet a few of the street sellers and understand the economy behind one showed up.

  3. Just walked the Ponte Vecchio tonight going to and from the bookstore and there wasn't one of these vendors to be found anywhere. Florence is cracking down hard right now. Lots of police visible.


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