Phi Finale

Waiting For A White Knight:

Trouble For Tuleh

Everything Must Go Redux:

In Which Cleo & Patek
Continues To Irk Us

Every now and then we put a post out there that quietly, but steadily attracts attention thanks to the miracle of Google. Almost exactly a year ago we wrote about Cleo & Patek, a chain of handbag stores throughout the city that were notorious for their constant deep discounting which suggested that they were selling expensive designer merchandise at a  bargain price. In fact, the discount was a scam, and none of their bags were ever sold at the inflated "full retail" prices. In fact, from our observation of the bags' quality (or lack thereof) it was unlikely that they were even worth the discount prices. We decided to revisit them one year later.
A year ago, we noticed that the signs in the windows had suddenly grown larger, along with the discount which was now up to 90% with the tagline, "Everything must go", suggesting that the chain may have finally been done for. Perhaps the recession had finally done consumers a favor, or maybe they were just amplifying the scam, adding a cheap "Going out of business (but not really)" ploy. In the year since that post ran, we have gotten a comment every few weeks from Cleo & Patek customers whose reports ranged from chagrin at falling for the scam to satisfaction with their purchases whatever they paid for them. Comments tended to lean towards the former, and we are fairly sure a few of the latter were plants, but still, Cleo & Patek continues to elicit attention.
Obviously, the stores are still with us, but in not terribly clever disguise. Those locations didn't close, but most have been renamed with vaguely European sounding names like Le Bo Paris, Eebele Paris, Mito Milan, Bocci+Bi Italia and de Navi Italia. A cursory inspection shows that these are the same stores with the same merchandise, all of it stamped with Cleo & Patek logos. And, as you can see above, the huge discount signs remain in the windows, easily making the upscale neighborhoods like SoHo and 57th Street where one finds them (along with lots of tourists, not coincidentally) look that much sleazier. These shops have become the retail equivalent of the neighbor who refuses to trim the hedges and mow the lawn, lowering property values for everyone.
Cleopatek57thclosing Last week, The Shophound visited one shop on West 57th street that had an actual "Store Closing" sign in the window, and the staff was quick to tell us they would be closing up "any day now". Crumpled up packaging paper strewn on the floor added to the air of impending shuttering, and yet we still wonder if the store has any actual plans to vacate. Overbearing staff aggressively made sure we were aware of the deep discounts. We had serious doubts that may of bags there were made of actual leather despite their "retail" prices of $500 and more. One style in a crocodile stamped material was actually priced over $1000, the gall of which still amazed us even though we knew it would probably only be sold for $100 or less. We hope this store really is closing, but we are not holding our breath. It will be one unit fewer of this shady chain.
You might ask, what's the big deal? Customers think they are getting a great deal, and they aren't ultimately paying very much. So what's wrong with that?
Basically it's the false advertising, the incredibly poor quality of the merchandise and the general sleaziness that we find so irksome. It's the same thing would annoy us about any chain of schlockhouses. Certainly, nobody who knows anything about accessories would be caught dead carrying one of those janky bags, but that doesn't excuse preying on the less sophisticated. We are pretty sure that it's illegal in some way or other to offer an impossibly deep "discount" on merchandise that was never legitimately offered at its wildly inflated full price, but who out there is actually going to monitor these things?
Allow us to issue an annual caveat: Stay away from Cleo & Patek and the stores that sell it. There are genuine bargains to be found in New York as well as great quality items at reasonable prices, just not at those places, no matter how stylish their neighbors may be. If it looks too good to be true, then it probably is.
Everything Must Go: Is Cleo & Patek Shutting Down, Or Are They Just Trying To Fake Us Out?


I agree. I aunt was visiting from New Orleans (Go Saints) and she saw the sign (90% off) and wanted to go in. I quickly told her it was a scam.

I assume their only business is tourist? If you've lived here more than a month you must know it's a scam.

Hi. I walked by the store today, saw some colourful bags and decided to check for bargains. But I never heard of the brand, good thing that by googling I saw your post here. THE SIGNS ARE STILL THERE, and indeed the sales staff said, 'our store is closing very soon', and immediately lowered a bag from $149 (at 70% discount), to 'you can have this for $129'. Just to share.

Hi there,I indeed fell into this tourist trap. The bag I bought is not too bad .But normally i would not have bought.So I am the only one to blame. Just being greedy!

Oh dear me! Wish I read this twenty hours ago. I fell in love with a black tote bag with red handles that I thought would be perfect for my laptop, ipad, the works. I was torn between the black and a red one; went for the black coz it's all-seasonal. Then I noticed that one said "Cleo and Patek" and the other said "Toblanc Paris." The sales woman, whom I had caught rolling her eyes at another customer, explained that Toblanc bought Cleo and Patek. At the back of my mind, I knew I was being scammed by an eye-rolling associate, but I liked the bag enough that I bought it. This morning, I woke up feeling really awful about this purchase coz my intuition was deeper and I did my research and found this page. Now I really hate myself for this. Lesson learnt.

I was fascinated to read all the comments. Personally, I have been a big fan of Cleo & Patek bags for years.As an architect, I look for design, quality and function. My C&P bag is all the above. I have used it daily for 3 years. It still looks brand new. I get so many compliments, all the time. I am glad they are still in business so I can return and get the same bag in other colors.On the pricing and discounted bit: I never take that stuff seriously. I look at the price something costs and determine if it's worth that amount to me.

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