Parisian shops. Are they just a money laundering business

I used Paris as an example but i think the same applues to major cities. Having lived in Paris for many months i am astonished at the large number of clothing shops that seem to do no business whatseover. Their clothes are quite expensive by Paris standards yet there seems to be no transactions and the shop owner hardly attempts to drum business when you enter.

So are they just money laundering fronts to cook their books with phantom sales and convert illegal money into legal money?

Is it widespread in Europe like car washes and kebab shops in the UK which also launders huge amounts of cash.

Perhaps some of them sell corporate uniforms, or theatrical costumes. This would mean that they don’t need to rely on walk-in customers and most of their business comes from large orders.

If you are a high end clothing designer you need to have a retail presence in a city like Paris, but you’re not selling a lot of $10,000 dresses to walk-ins.

Money laundering operations still need cash flow - otherwise there is nothing to launder. Typically they are businesses that actually have lots of real cash flowing. Businesses that have money come in the form of traceable transactions - like credit cards, debit cards, cheques etc, are very difficult to launder money through, as all the money can be traced. But if your prime business is in cash you can claim any amount of income in the door as legitimate trade, and thus can convert that cash into clean money. As society becomes more and more cashless it gets harder. Here in Oz pornography shops still trade, yet it is hard to believe that selling porn magazines makes anyone money in the age of internet porn. But I bet nobody paid in cash when they were making money, and it would be a good business front to claim most income was cash.Betting shops are another.

Given the margins on such dresses are close to infinite, you may only need to sell one a day to stay in business. Salespeople in these shops are pretty good at sizing up customers, and usually claim to know if someone is a timewaster within seconds of their entering the store. They know almost everyone who passes is not in the market for what they are selling, so they don’t care. The ones they are worried about are those that are entereing the store with clear intent. They can turn on the obsequious charm in spades, and know how to woo the money out of their purses. Many customers will be repeats. Many will make appointments.

I’ve heard stories about the tee shirt shops in Key West, FL.

While there are some clothing stores which are money laundries, many of the higher end ones combine exclusive sales at the beginning of a season (often with the store apparently closed, or with clients entering directly to the VIP area) with a long time of selling very little, with rushes when the prices go down or certain events take place (the season changes for real, invitations for weddings get issued…). Also, many of them offer fitting and the higher-end ones offer delivery, so a customer may go in, purchase a bunch of stuff and still leave empty-handed. I don’t even purchase particularly high-end but I always need fitting at the waist and for trousers at the leg, so any purchases involving trousers or fitted skirts will involve leaving the items in the store.

May I ask where are you from? Same as with waiters, expectations for what constitutes high-end retail service are very different in the US and much of Europe. My own expectations are that if I try to catch the eye of a vendor they’ll catch it back, but not to be asked “how may I help you?” until I have initiated contact.

Depending on how high-end - in some Areas, bored wifes of rich husbands open clothing boutiques that don’t necessarily have to make a Profit, but are a way for the wife to be occupied, meet other high-class People, and get an artistic Flair.

I’ve seen that, shops that are basically hobbies, that would never have opened if normal business standards applied. Three of my well-heeled clients have shops that I’m sure are basically something to keep themselves or their spouse busy. And it’s not always wives - one is a music shop owner being funded by his corporate vice-President wife. It’s basically a place where people can wander in, chat, and figure out what they want to order from Musician’s Friend.

Right. I get this question all the time, and it’s just not how money laundering works.

I call these things “retail museums”. You see lots of them around in more affluent areas.

It leads me to conclude they are mostly hobby businesses per gaffa, with the rest being a sure sign the merchandise has a stupid-high markup so one sale per week meets their nut.

The other option is that they have a storefront, but don’t expect to actually make any sales from the storefront. Nobody comes into the store, looks at what’s on the rack, points to the one they want, have it boxed up and walk out the door.

Instead the storefront is just a place to pick up things already made for the customers. If Mrs Rich needs a dress for the regatta she doesn’t go in and browse, she meets the designer who tells her what she needs and she sends somebody to pick it up when it’s ready. So the storefront doesn’t exist to sell clothes, it’s just an appendix to the real business which is one on one private sales.

It doesn’t surprise me. Within the bounds of this board, any chance you can fight some ignorance here?

I have posted a few times. I’ll see what I have time to do.

I’d be happy to write a staff report article.

In Paris, shop assistants will generally ignore you until you speak. “Bonjour Mlle” will make them give you their full attention.

The designer dress shops are similar to the shops that sell Ferraris, Lamborghini or Bugatti, and may only sell one a week.

A friend of mine owns a “design” shop in Los Angeles. She doesn’t expect to make a profit from it. Most of her revenue is from decoration contracts and consulting gigs. The shop gives her easier access to wholesale prices and some tax benefits. Plus some prestige from having retail space at that location.

You always have to look at the entire business to understand their decisions.

I’m no expert, but I have seen it said that the best fronts are successful businesses. In this category I’d put a local bakery that does a land-office business in delicious pastries that are priced well below the cost of making them.

I’ve also seen obvious fronts that don’t even pretend to operate normally.

Perhaps like a fried chicken restaurant, or a car wash (for those who haven’t watched “Breaking Bad”…)

Yes, I’ve had that experience in shops in other places in France too. For me it’s pleasant not to be harried by chipper sales assistants.

I was almost going to try to find the postings, then I saw your post count :eek:

To whomever is involved in such things, any chance of getting DrDeth to write such a report?

I think you mean “everybody”.