Imean Shaheed was working last Sunday when federal agents rushed into the Patapsco Flea Market, announced over the loudspeaker that the bazaar was closed for business and shut down vendors selling knockoff Nikes, Louis Vuitton bags and Tiffany & Co. jewelry.
"It was like the movies," the 20-year-old Shaheed said Saturday after the Cherry Hill flea market re-opened. Some booths were empty, but the parking lot was full and customers flocked to vendors such as Shaheed who were open for business.
Shaheed, who sells "soaps, baby hats, baby bows, incense, fly traps" and an assortment of other odds and ends, said the raid didn't affect his family's booth and sales were strong.
U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement Homeland Security Investigations raided the market April 22 after a 21/2-year sting into the sale of counterfeit merchandise.
On Wednesday, a federal grand jury indicted five Baltimore men on charges that they violated trademark laws when they sold the counterfeit purses, shots, watches and hats around the area, including at the flea market.
Martin S. Himeles Jr., an attorney for the market, said Saturday that the bazaar has had and continues to have a policy against the sale of counterfeit merchandise.
The flea market "is open for business and gratified by the continued support of the community," Himeles said in an email. He declined to comment further.
Harry Hedges of nearby Morrell Park said visiting flea markets is part of his usual Saturday routine. He left Patapsco market without any finds, but said he'd picked up a whisk for $1 at a flea market in Pasadena.
"If I can identify it, and I have a use for it, and it's cheap enough, I'll buy it," Hedges said. He said he doesn't believe he has ever bought any counterfeit goods at the Patapsco Flea Market. But most the time it's hard to tell what's legitimate and what's a knockoff, he said.
Joe Johnston of Bel Air bought some clothing for a work uniform, a couple of two-for-$5 bottles of Axe body wash and plastic sandals with the Redskins' logo.
Johnston said the flea market is a good place to buy cheap stuff like discounted toiletries and laundry detergent. As for those buying the knockoff merchandise, "You come here and you know what you're getting. If it's too good to be true, it probably is."
One vendor selling purses and costume jewelry said she always made it a point to pick items to sell that did not carry designer labels.
"I don't buy for the brand," said the woman, who gave her name only as Makkah. "I buy because it looks good."