SEATTLE — Occidental Avenue South is arguably one of the busiest streets in Seattle right now.
Team shops are everywhere and there are no worries about whether you’re getting authentic, NFL-licensed merchandise.
“I would just rather spend more money and make sure I get the real deal. It just makes you feel better; better material, better everything,” Seahawks fan Stefan Hawks said.
But, if you’ve visited authorized shops, you know prices can be steep, a little too steep for some fans who are as big a 12th Man as any other.
“I love the Seahawks. I like the design. It’s got the best player in the NFL,” Seahawks fan Curt Russell said.
With the success of the Hawks and Super Bowl fever, unauthorized shops, or tents, actually, are popping up on street corners all over.
Some have styles you might not see anywhere else — prices almost too good to be true and even harder to resist.
Unfortunately, there is a very good chance the gear you buy may not be authentic and that’s OK with Curt Russell.
“It doesn’t matter to me. If it’s a nice design, I’m going to get it,” Russell said.
U.S. Customs agents and local law enforcement officers are working to shut down unauthorized shops, but every time one is shuttered, another opens its doors. So potential customers have to be extra careful because, best-case scenario, you lose your money; worst case, you lose a lot more.
“There are some dangers involved as well. With the jerseys, for example, there is some worry about whether the jersey is flammable, lead content. This is a major problem right now,” Better Business Bureau spokesman David Quinlan said.
And it’s not just gear.
By now most of us have heard about counterfeit Superbowl tickets.
They are nearly indistinguishable.
“Quit buying stuff on Craigslist,” Kent police detective Melanie Frazier said.
Frazier says that’s the best advice she can give.
Right now Kent police are looking for a man accused of selling bogus tickets to the Seahawks NFC championships game.
He allegedly bilked one Hawks fan out of $1,600 and police say he could still be out there — perhaps selling Super Bowl ‘tickets’ to someone else.
“I know it sounds like a good deal and sometimes if it’s sounds too good to be true, it is too good to be true,” Frazier said.
“If you don’t buy from a reputable dealer, if you don’t buy from your team store or the NFL, it’s the home team that ends up losing,” Quinlan said.
While selling counterfeit merchandise is against the law, there is nothing illegal about buying counterfeit merchandise.