Purse Shopping on Canal Street

Like shopping at the Forever 21 in Times Square before Christmas, I will probably never go purse shopping on Canal Street again (if that sentence made no sense to you, then you should really be sure to stay away from shopping in Times Square). My $20 “Nine West” purse from Gabe’s in rural Maryland had started to fall apart. Partially because it was poorly made, probably mostly because I carried around my laptop and tons of other junk in it all the time. So I needed a nice, big purse to take to work.

Canal Street, in Chinatown, New York, is lined with little shops selling purses, sunglasses, and souvenirs. Luckily, I found a purse at the second store my friend and I went to, see the picture above. I was going to haggle the price down (apparently that is part of the fun), but she offered it for $25, and since my goal was to spend $30 or less, I took it. My friend still needed a bag and wanted to see what else they offered. By what else, I mean the illegal designer knock-offs.

Men and women walk up and down the streets leaning over and saying, “Gucci, Prada, Channel, what you want?” You tell them what sort of brand you desire, and they radio to their partners that you are coming. If the cops aren’t raiding them, they will walk you to the store that has the goods. At first it was kind of fun, very cloak and dagger. What could be hidden in those cabinets? How good do these bags look? But then it got a bit scary. A guy in one of the stores started to show us purses hidden in a suitcase. Even if they were not supposed to be “Longchamp” bags, they still looked terrible. My friend and I tried to leave, but he kept lowering the price and getting angry that we were not going to buy it after he showed it.

It was an interesting adventure. I think next time I need a purse, I am just going to browse online. I don’t really need the hassle of haggling and going into backrooms. But, if you are in New York and looking for that $30 it Channel handbag, check out Canal Street. Just be sure to take a friend in case they want to show you the purses in the back of a van.


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