$18 Reds T-shirts: counterfeit or OK?

Don't Waste Your Money

Cincinnati Reds fans are now getting the fever -- pennant fever -- and suddenly everyone wants merchandise.

But how do you know you're getting good quality, and not a knockoff the will turn everything else in your washing machine to pink when you toss it in the load?

Top Quality: Reds Pro Shop

The Reds Pro Shop at Great American Ballpark is the best place for top quality, official merchandise.    

Everything is approved by Major League Baseball, has an MLB hologram on the label, and won't shrink five sizes when you wash it, or turn all your other clothing red in the wash.

Only problem: It's not cheap, with T-Shirts starting at $35, and sweatshirts at from $60 to $85.

You will also find official merchandise as sporting goods shops like Koch's Sporting Goods, on Fourth Street in Downtown Cincinnati.

Grocery Stores a Cheaper Option

That's where street vendors and grocery stores like Mejier and Kroger come in.

We found shirts for as little as $18 at the grocery stores, and kids shirts for $9.  (Official MLB children's shirts start at $25).

But if it's not official, don't expect to see a Reds logo on the shirt, or even the word "Reds," as that is trademarked by Major League Baseball. It may just say "Cincinnati Playoff Fever."

Much of that grocery store merchandise, while not MLB approved, still benefits the Player's Trust Fund, so it does give to charity, and is not "counterfeit."

On the Street

We checked a half dozen street stands in downtown Cincinnati, and found that some street vendors do sell the official stuff: Look for the MLB logo and a hologram on the tag. It may be a few dollars cheaper than the Reds Pro Shop.

Some vendors may sell counterfeit merchandise, which often happens at championship time. It may say "Reds," but the tag won't have the silver hologram. You don't anything about the quality, who made it, or where it has been.

Look for markdowns

Finally, remember that Division Championship Merchandise will all be marked down in a few days, because it's most likely fans will all want League Championship items.

So you could wait a day or two, and that way you don't waste your money.
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