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Fake Gucci, Canada Goose prices inflated at Value Village, Saskatoon man says

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A Saskatoon man is concerned about the rise in knockoff clothing items being found at second-hand stores, and he wants better training for staff to detect fakes.

When browsing items at a local Value Village earlier this summer, Derek Chambers discovered some clothes that appeared to be fake and raised his concern.

Staff removed them, saying with the number of items they process, it's impossible to catch everything.

But last week, Chambers spotted another suspicious item on display with a high price tag.

"A Canada Goose jacket that has a $400 price tag," said Chambers. "But to my understanding, from what I've seen from authentic jackets, the tagging was in the wrong place, the stitching was off on the badge. There were a number of ways I could tell as a customer that this was not an authentic product."

He asked staff what would happen if he had bought it, discovered it was fake and returned it.

"I would get an in-store credit, and I wouldn't be refunded," he said. "Well, that's a pretty crazy amount to be spending in the second-hand store."

When he tried to take pictures of the jacket, staff asked him to leave.

A spokesperson for Value Village's U.S.-based parent company Savers said Chambers made the right move by raising the issue.

"On average, each of our stores merchandise up to 35,000 unique and varied items on our racks and shelves every week. We encourage our customers to speak with a store manager or reach out to our customer care team if they feel an item has been inadvertently placed on our sales floor," the spokesperson said in an email.

"In these circumstances, our policy is to make corrections where appropriate."

Chambers understands there is a lot of inventory coming in, but he wonders if staff are being properly trained to spot fake items before they attach a high price tag.

"Do they have the ability to see the nuance of what the stitching is and at that point, are they ever offered education on how to do that," Chambers said. "Or are they only offered 15 seconds per item to grade it, price it and it's gone?"

One local second-hand store owner says it's getting harder to tell what's fake, so her staff does extra training and takes extra time to verify an item is authentic before it hits shelves.

"When someone brings in a Louis Vuitton or Chanel and it's not authentic, we won't purchase that item to resell in our store because essentially it's illegal to do that," said Jocelyn Malcolm, owner of Style Encore. "So we do have to make sure it is legal and that everything is authentic in our store, and that we are selling it for a fair price as well."

Malcolm says with some designer bags, there are apps that can scan barcodes attached to them to verify authenticity. But her staff is trained to evaluate items in a variety of price ranges.

"There's tips and tricks from a $100 bag versus a $3,000 bag, she said. “We have 15 staff members and they're all trained on how to spot those things.”

Chambers believes these were isolated incidents. But with more people relying on thrift stores, he says customers need to be mindful of what they're buying.

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