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City confiscates hundreds of 'Boston Strong' shirts from unlicensed vendors outside benefit concert

Posted by Matt Rocheleau  June 3, 2013 10:35 AM

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(City of Boston Inspectional Services Department)

City officials said they confiscated hundreds of “Boston Strong” T-shirts from about a half-dozen vendors who were selling the apparel without proper permits, and likely with no intention of donating proceeds to charity, outside the star-studded benefit concert for Marathon bombing victims at TD Garden Thursday night.

“A lot of people come in from out of town, and they don’t realize it’s counterfeit and that the money isn’t going to the One Fund,” said Michael Mackan, chief of the Code Enforcement Division of Boston’s Inspectional Services Department.

Shirts, apparel, and other goods can be sold on streets within Boston proper, but only if a vendor has secured a city permit to hawk and peddle and is in compliance with rules that come with the permit, including only setting up shop between 8 p.m. and 8 a.m.

The time restrictions are intended to protect brick-and-mortar vendors.

Most of the shirt-selling crews city officials shut down Thursday were from New York, did not have permits and were selling exact replicas of special Boston Strong shirts being sold at the concert. The concert donated its proceeds to the One Fund charity to support Marathon bombing victims.

“If the deal’s too good there’s usually a reason for that,” said Mackan, citing how many of the illicit shirts are $10 each or less and are often made of cheap material that wears easily.

When city officials approached the groups outside the arena Thursday, many of the crews “dropped the shirts and ran,” Mackan said.

He said city officials recognized the crews.

“It used to happen before, whenever Boston would play New York,” there would be unlicensed curbside apparel sales outside Fenway Park, TD Garden and other areas in the city, he said. “We had cleaned that up. And we hadn’t seen them here since 2007,” around when the Red Sox won the World Series.

Because the groups bolted, no arrests were made and no fines were issued.

Though, two local vendors who have permits were cited for selling shirts before 8 p.m. Those vendors had their goods and permits seized until they pay the city their $200 fines.

Boston Strong shirts, made by numerous vendors, have become popular since the Marathon bombings. Most vendors donate at least some proceeds to charity.

But, some who sell the shirts have violated city laws in recent weeks, Mackan said.

The most egregious incident his department found came earlier this month when a vendor was selling Boston Strong shirts in the middle of the day at the Copley Square memorial site for the bombings. The vendor received a $200 fine and had their permit and merchandise seized until they paid.

E-mail Matt Rocheleau at
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