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Ensuring the Goods are GenuINA

The world's largest resale forum, eBay, is taking heat for providing an online outlet for counterfeit goods.  Thus far, the website's response is its VeRO program, which allows trademark owners to request the removal of infringing listings from the site.  But how do brick-and-mortar store make sure that their secondhand treasures are not trash? 

I recently stopped in at the newest branch of a high-end New York City consignment shop, INA, and asked the eponymous owner herself how she screens for fakes.  The answer?  Very carefully.  INA is perhaps best known as both the source of many of celebrity stylist Patricia Field's choices for Sex and the City and the host of a massive sale of much of the characters' wardrobe after the show ended.  With such a fashion-conscious clientele, INA has quite a reputation to uphold.

On the day I stopped by, one of the employees, Khadijah, had just been uptown to Hermes to have a handbag athenticated, and she periodically makes similar trips to places like Louis Vuitton and Gucci -- that is, if  the merchandise even passes INA's initial screening.  After 15 years in the resale business, not much gets by the INA staff.  In the unlikely event of a faux pas, INA waives its usual no-returns policy and offers a full refund, even if the problem is discovered months later and the consignor has already been paid.  The prices aren't rock-bottom, but INA intends to ensure that you get what you pay for. 

Different consignment and resale shops have different policies with respect to suspect merchandise.  At the most exclusive vintage venues, however, the policy is not caveat emptor but caveat venditor