Living in India, I get a lot of opportunity to buy knock off goods, otherwise known as black market merchandise. That can include branded sports gear such as Nike, Reebok, Puma, for like Rs. 600… (That’s about $12 US dollars!) the latest books for Rs 50..($1 US dollar!) or even Lacoste t-shirts for Rs 150….($3 US dollars) I could go on with this list, naming all the things I could buy off the black market for dirt cheap but I’ll refrain…
Let’s start with my favorite black market purchase: BOOKS!!! Counterfeit books are made on the streets of India by street hawkers. They get their hands on original books which they then have illegal copies made by local printing shops.(Slip a couple hundred rupees under the table and the printing companies get their cut off this black market deal.) The books can then be bought off the street for 1/10th of the price. Famous author Jeffrey Archer gave an interview to the P Mirror when visiting P. He was pretty surprised when he was handed a counterfeit copy of his own book by one of the interviewers. I think he was more shocked at how efficiently his book was copied to be made into a pirated book. I dont have a very good picture but here’s a small snap of the article in P Mirror with the headlines “Jeffrey Archer Stumped By His Pirated Thriller”
Now black market merchandise can ideally be categorized into 2 groups. There’s the stuff that’s real, which is usually made here in India itself or in countries like China by the brands themselves. When a surplus of merchandise is made and the brands don’t need all of it, they have whatever they need shipped back to the good ol’ USA or Europe or wherever they need it and the extras go into the black market to be sold. Then there’s local “craftsman” who like to make imitation merchandise. It’s not the real thing but some of them do a pretty damn good job of copying the real thing, that you end up liking the imitation better than the real thing! Below are some examples of counterfeit sneakers you DON’T wanna buy… Lol… yeah they have some goofy stuff out there. But you gotta know where to find the good stuff…
(These ones don’t even look real…but believe you me, there are the percentage of Indians who don’t know any better and buy it just to wear something that says “Adidas”! Talk about brand starved people??!?)
This photograph below shows one of the many stalls on the street where you can buy counterfeit clothing. As you can see at this stall they’re selling boxers with brand names such as Tommy Hilfiger, Calvin Klein, Hugo Boss, Emporio Armani, Reebok and much more… (You name it, they have it!)
My point is this. Why should I buy a pair of Pumas for $90 when I can get the same thing for $12? Generations today have become so obsessed with brands that they are willing to pay through their nose to have “Nike. Just Do It” pasted across their chest. Why should we be paying companies for advertising their brand names on our clothes? If anything WE should be getting paid for being their personal billboards.
The even more surprising bit is you’ll probably get a better pair of branded sneakers off the street than by going to the actual store. Most of the actual stores in India don’t take the effort of maintaining their merchandise. If you’ve ever been to India you’ll know there’s naturally a lot of dust in the air. The shoes they offer are so musty with the dust from around the store, they almost look used. You don’t even get the joy of having squeaky white new shoes to wear, when you buy them brand new! But these street sellers? They’re pros. They know people are going to buy something that looks nice. So even if they have their stall right next to an overflowing gutter of garbage and travel through the smog ridden city, they make sure their goods are nicely wrapped away in plastic to retain newness. Isn’t this what we learned about in school? Supply and demand, competition? If you have a better product you’re going to get more people crazy about buying it! Is it our problem if the fakes are selling better and look more appealing than the originals? So why should we feel guilty for buying on the black market? this light is turned off.
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By Bon Jovi