Your Runnin’ Scared Vermin Investigation team took to the streets of Soho today after hearing the news that Hollister (Abercrombie’s darker, nakeder, cologne-addled cousin) had been closed due to bedbug infestation. We found a steady stream of unwitting customers from as far away as Ireland and Miami who continued to attempt to visit the store, only to find they’d rather not enter even if they could.
“It’s disgusting, but I don’t know how they got there because there are no beds, but I guess they can travel,” says Alyssa Rowe, 14, who is visiting from Miami. She and her aunt walked 10 blocks out of their way just to shop in the flagship location. “I love Hollister; it’s all that’s in my closet,” Rowe says — but, “I don’t want to go in a store with bedbugs.” That, there, is something New Yorkers and tourists have in common.
A peek beyond the sign (“We’re sorry, Hollister is temporarily closed”) at the temporarily shuttered store revealed stacks of T-shirts still neatly folded on tables, but no employees or exterminators in sight. Where were all the spacesuit-wearing bedbug killers and their louse-sniffing dogs? “Multiple employees were covered in bites,” according to a letter an employee sent to Gothamist. Think all publicity is good publicity? Perhaps not.
Eileene Luciano, 37, who has lived in Manhattan her whole life and has never heard about a retail store
bedbug shutdown, came to Hollister today to verify that what she read in the news was true. “I saw it, and I said, ‘I don’t believe that,’ ” she says. “You know what, I’m kind of disgusted, and I don’t know what they are going to do.” While she was talking, her friend read from his phone, “It’s right here, ‘Bedbugs Close Sexy Hollister Store in Soho.’ ”
“They’re not worse than rats, but they’re fighting their way up,” Salvador Marquez, 17, another would-be customer says. To him, rats and flying roaches are more disgusting pests, yet “it doesn’t provoke people to buy clothing if it’s full of bedbugs.”
Chantal Inverden, 23, was meeting a friend at the store, and found out about the infestation when she arrived. The self-described germophobe said the microscopic bugs are worse than mice, rats, and cockroaches … combined! “Mice and rats, they get scared of people. Bedbugs, they’re not
intimidated,” she says. “I think they can carry disease because they suck blood, and they put this serum they produce inside your skin.” (Note: Bedbugs don’t typically transmit harmful diseases, but the thought is still repulsive.) Inverden asked what the Voice‘s blog is called, then said, “Runnin’ Scared — good term for this.”