Cheap turns expensive at Urban Outfitters

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$24 posters at Urban Outfitters, six times the price as a Slope store. Photos by Sarah Bibi.

The buzz about whether Urban Outfitters allegedly makes a habit of stealing artisans’ work has been roaring recently. I recently unearthed one more reason to look elsewhere for my eclectic goods: Cheap wall coverings available for $4 at local paper stores, which cost six times as much at Urban Outfitters!

A year ago, I discovered the huge money saver of buying vintage imagery gift wrap to use as wall art. Last May, I blogged about some of sheets I bought Scaredy Kat, a local Park Slope store, and at the chain Kate’s Paperie, mostly from a line called Cavallini. I found beautiful textbook and vintage anatomy prints for about $4 each. Add a $5 Ikea frame and you have a lovely piece of ready-to-hang art for less than $10.

Same prints available for a fraction of the price at Scaredy Kat


About two months ago, I was in Urban Outfitters and saw several of my favorite images for sale as “posters” in the home section. For the same piece of gift wrap, with the addition of a slab of cardboard and shrinkwrap, Urban Outfitters is selling sheets like the “A Picture of Good Health” Phrenology poster for $24. The same sheet at Scaredy Kat is $3.75.

When I stopped into Scaredy Kat this past weekend, I almost expected the prices to have increased dramatically. Owners Damon and Nora were not aware Urban Outfitters was selling the wrap at a huge markup. Their extensive stock of Cavillini gift wrap remains at the reasonable price of $3.75 per sheet. (My “Les Champignons” mushroom specimen “poster” is also available for the same price, as opposed to $24 at UO).

If you aren’t near Park Slope, Cavallini directs you to an online site that sells the sheets for just a bit more ($4.50 each plus shipping).

Do you have a favorite store in Brooklyn that sells Cavillini wrap? Let me know!

Follow Sarah: @Sarahbibi.

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  1. I got a gorgeous 1940’s map of Brooklyn last year at Annie’s Blue Ribbon General Store in Boerum Hill. It was also wrapping paper, printed by another company, and was less than $4. They also had vintage subway maps of New York too. Hopefully Cavallini and the other companies won’t feel the need to start raising their prices because of Urban Outfitters.

  2. I have a few Cavallini maps that I bought at Fred Flare before they closed down, but certainly not for as cheap as at Scaredy Kat. Thanks for the tip!

  3. How did anyone not already know this? Urban Outfitters is the Readers Digest of retail. They cram whatever trendy 100%polyester/acrylic/plastic scenester commodities they can into some garish, over-designed space, mark it up for 1000% and unload it on those too ignorant/lazy to support independent sellers. How anyone condones or patronizes this behavior is perplexing to me.

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