For years, dissatisfied customers have griped that Abercrombie and Fitch (ANF) bleeds its customers dry; on Wednesday, they were proven literally right when the flagship store of Hollister, the retailer's teen-oriented chain, closed its doors amid evidence of a bedbug infestation.
According to employees, the four-story outlet in New York's SoHo district has had a bedbug problem for weeks. Anorexic models hired to lounge around in the company's clothing while looking bored have complained of bug bites and have found dead insects clinging to their borrowed Hollister clothes. While bedbugs are nocturnal, Hollister's gloomy lighting has apparently convinced the translucent bloodsuckers that it's always night inside the store, encouraging them to breed -- and feed -- all the time.
A spokesman for the store, quoted in The Wall Street Journal, claimed that the infestation is confined to "certain isolated sections of the store," and predicted that the Hollister will "reopen shortly." However, as anyone who has had an experience with bedbugs will attest, the insects are tenacious and very difficult to eradicate.
While its closed doors are sucking Hollister dry, lost revenues are only part of the retailer's problem: the company's failure to shut down at the earliest sign of bedbugs may open it to lawsuits from customers. And, given that bedbugs can easily hitch rides on clothes and can quickly infest a space, chances are good that this will be a hard problem for Hollister to exterminate.
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