The secondary shopping market


In honor of Christmas, a bit of a shopping tale…

Fifth Avenue in New York, particularly in midtown, is a shopping mecca. Flagship stores, decked out beyond belief and folks who actually shop in them flooding the streets, especially this time of year. Even on Christmas day Fifth Avenue is crowded with folks out shopping. The difference is that all the stores are closed.

So where are people shopping? In the secondary market that miraculously pops up to fill the gap. The legitimate stores are all closed, but I couldn’t make it 50 feet on the sidewalk without tripping over folks stopped to look at handbags, watches, shawls, sunglasses, names painted on signs and just about everything else you can imagine. On a normal day these “merchants” would be relegated to side streets for the most part thanks to NYC’s reasonably strict rules about sidewalk sales. But today, when all the stores are closed and the cops are mostly on vacation, the bootleggers get free rein.

I’m pretty sure that most the folks buying on the street know that all the stuff is fake. At least I really hope that they do. The one that worries me is the three-card monte. I passed at least three different games set up on the street this afternoon. One was in full swing while the other two were just getting warmed up. I couldn’t resist the urge to shout “Its a hustle” as I walked by. Hopefully the folks around don’t lose too much money.

Still, it was fun to see the other half getting their turn to be Fifth Avenue merchants, even if it is only for a day.

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Seth Miller

I'm Seth, also known as the Wandering Aramean. I was bit by the travel bug 30 years ago and there's no sign of a cure. I fly ~200,000 miles annually; these are my stories. You can connect with me on Twitter, Facebook, LinkedIn and .
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