Bargain bags and give-away gadgets are not all they seem in Yeovil today, as the UK’s first ‘Fake Shop’ opens its doors to savvy shoppers in Somerset.
To mark National Consumer Week, (2 – 6 November), Devon & Somerset Trading Standards Service has joined forces with consumer protection and social hardship charity, Impact Planet and ‘ASTOP’, who specialise in transforming empty shops into charitable and educational experiences, to highlight the dangers of buying counterfeit goods.
The pioneering project is the first of its kind in the UK, and aims to give shoppers the unique opportunity to become ‘Scampions’ and discover the ugly truth behind the counterfeit goods trade, consumer scams and doorstep crime before it’s too late.
‘The Fake Shop’ on Middle Street is stocked with everything from counterfeit clothing and phony perfume to dodgy toy dolls. With interactive activities and volunteers on hand to help, shrewd shoppers will learn what to look out for so they don’t get scammed. The shop is also packed with advice and guidance and personal stories of scams as well as lots of useful information to take away to help people stay vigilant and safe.
There is also lots of help and advice available for genuine businesses to help them comply with the law.
Councillor David Hall, Somerset County Council’s Cabinet Member with responsibility for Trading Standards, explains: “Christmas shopping has started to get underway and with a huge increase to online sales it’s more difficult to know what you’re buying and who from. Don’t get caught out by seemingly un-missable offers and bargain prices – all might not be what it seems when you get the goods delivered; if they’re delivered at all.
“Selling counterfeit goods is sometimes seen as a ‘victimless’ crime, but this is often far from the truth as fake products can not only endanger your wallet, but also potentially your health.
“The variety of items in The Fake Shop shows that its not just DVDs and clothing that are counterfeited or mis-described. Electronics, food and drink, cosmetics, tools, car parts, jewellery and even fireworks can be cleverly disguised as genuine products when in reality they are cheaper substitutes that are often so poorly made they are unreliable at best, and more worryingly could be very dangerous.
“The counterfeit trade is also extremely harmful to the local economy, and often funds serious and organised crime so it is great news that Devon and Somerset Trading Standards Service are supporting this innovated and unique project. I hope everyone takes advantage of the opportunity to visit the UKs first ‘Fake Shop’, and learn how to protect themselves from all kinds of trading scams and become smart shoppers.”
Paul Chick MBE, an Impact Planet volunteer ‘Scampion’ at The Fake Shop in Yeovil said: “Anyone shopping in Somerset this festive season should pop in to The Fake Shop and become a ‘Scampion’ by finding out how to identify scams, avoid counterfeit goods and prevent themselves becoming the victim of a rogue trader.
“And remember, scams aren’t just for Christmas so neither is The Fake Shop! We will be open all year round, and the sham stock and interactive activities will continually evolve to represent the latest counterfeit trends and seasonal scams, so keeping watching this space.”
Find out more about The Fake Shop on their Facebook page (https://www.facebook.com/therealfakeshop) or by following them on Twitter, @OurImpactPlanet