When retailers get invaded by bed bugs, it’s a pretty gross situation. But when retailers try to hide the fact, then it’s just a downward spiral. Well, that’s exactly what happened to the Urban Outfitters store in Manhattan’s Flatiron District, and the retailer got caught.
The problem began in March when a customer spotted a nasty bed bug on the sales floor. Then in April, an employee reported that there was a bed bug problem at home. Despite the fact that employees share a break room and locker space, store managers didn’t do anything about it. By June and July, store associates were reporting bug bites, and most appeared three in a row — just like bed bug bites.
A source tells Jezebel:
“As soon as it started getting hotter, everyone started getting bites, probably because everyone shares one communal office: bags, coats, everything goes in there. Employees told their supervisors they were getting bitten and asked what they should do. But they haven’t really done much.”
On July 9, exterminators inspected the store and surprise! — found bed bugs. They used cedar oil, which only works on contact with an actual bug, in cracks and crevices, locker rooms and break areas, and in the offices, but not in the public areas of the Flatiron store. Ten days later, more bugs were found in the store’s offices, so managers tossed out furniture. Employees were also told not to keep their bags in the affected space. A specialist tells Jezebel that the main problem lies in unsealed cracks, and that the retailer should steam all the clothing and treat the public areas to get rid of the bed bugs.
As disgusting as this sounds, bed bugs are not uncommon, especially in clothing stores. According to Jezebel, “40 percent of bed bug problems occur in commercial businesses”. Back in 2010, retailers like Hollister, Macy’s, Victoria’s Secret, and Juicy Couture dealt with their own bed bug situations, and in timely fashion.
But Urban Outfitters has yet to publicly release a statement on the issue. By dragging out the problem, the retailer is seriously increasing the risk of spreading those nasty little suckers. Is the store waiting for a written invitation or something?