Nike Latest to Be Bitten by Bedbugs

Discussion
Sep 20, 2010
Tom Ryan

By Tom Ryan

Niketown on East 57th Street in Manhattan became the latest New York City
store to be infested with bedbugs. Store windows on Friday were covered with
brown paper with the notice "temporarily
closed until further notice."

A statement from Nike said the company had "proactively
closed Niketown" after
finding evidence of bedbugs.

"Our primary concern is the well being of our consumers and sales associates," the
statement said. "We are taking all proper steps to eradicate the problem
and we expect the store to reopen shortly."

Niketown joins Hollister, Abercombie & Fitch
and Victoria’s Secret that have seen stores in Manhattan temporarily closed
due to bedbugs. Each store infestation has been splayed across the pages of
tabloids along with cases reported at the AMC Times Square theater, Google’s
New York offices, the Empire State Building and elsewhere.

At least publicly,
Bergdorf Goodman has been most proactive in dealing with the bedbug scare.
An insect-sniffing beagle has been hired to parole its men’s and women’s departments
over the last several weeks although no bedbugs have been found.

"The anxiety level is clearly high in New York," Ginger
Reeder, vice president of corporate communications for Bergdorf Goodman, told The
Daily News.
"It seemed important to go the extra mile."

Lord & Taylor
also told Women’s Wear Daily it has increased the
frequency of exterminations to once a week while not finding any bugs. But
other stores WWD attempted
to contact to explore their bedbug strategies, including Saks, Bloomingdale’s,
Ralph Lauren, Gap, and J.Crew, declined comment.

Speaking to New York Magazine,
bedbug expert Timothy Wong said more stores in New York City are taking preventive
measures behind the scenes. But he also said bedbug cases have been on the
rise in the city for the last few years. "The
public just didn’t know about
it because it’s not something people want to announce," Mr. Wong
said.

New York Magazine‘s style blogger Amy Odell wrote that while fashion
companies naturally "don’t want to be associated with something
gross like bedbugs," she wondered why there weren’t more assurances.

"Some shoppers are afraid to go into the wild world of carpeted stores
full of wooden shelves and knit sweaters and so many things made of
fabric and other bedbug-friendly materials," said Ms. Odell. "Is
it so hard to reassure us that a bedbug-prevention plan will be in place?"

Pest
control company Terminix listed New York as the most bedbug-infested city in
the U.S., followed by Philadelphia, Detroit, Cincinnati and Chicago.

Discussion questions: Should New York City stores be more proactive about
communicating bedbug-prevention strategies with consumers? What other steps should
stores be taking?

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16 Comments on "Nike Latest to Be Bitten by Bedbugs"


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Gene Hoffman
Guest
Gene Hoffman
10 years 7 months ago

Stores should be circumspect in dealing with bedbug prevention strategies. Who wants a bedbug in their rug? Nobody!

Roger Saunders
Guest
10 years 7 months ago

Quality retailers and owners of commercial properties have long had sound cleanliness and pest control programs in place. With “bedbugs” seemingly on the rise (at least in media concerns views), it behooves these merchants to make certain that they continue to have best practices in place when it comes to their sanitation issues.

This is not a topic that needs to be publicly shared with their customers, unless there is a specific outbreak in one of their stores or buildings. At that point, be candid–we’re dealing with the problem, and we’re committed to the best possible environment for you, the Consumer, to shop with us.

Store operations should step up their vigilance, with the proper ‘walking around management’ that should take place every single day.

Susan Rider
Guest
Susan Rider
10 years 7 months ago

Of course if the retailer has a strategy, definitely communicate it! It will give consumers a comfort that something is being done. To rid the nuisance is not an easy process and it’s very costly. According to the experts, regular pest control won’t help. Puts a whole new meaning to the nursery rhyme….

Phil Rubin
Guest
10 years 7 months ago

Bedbugs seem to be the elephant in the room now for retailers, just as they are for hoteliers. No one seems to be dealing with the issue head-on and it’s going to be increasingly problematic for a number of leading brands. Those who plant their head in the sand on the issue–and most of them seem to be doing just that–are likely to get bitten on their behinds (pun intended!).

James Tenser
Guest
10 years 7 months ago

Visible vigilance. Full disclosure. I see no other option for retailers regarding pest infestation.

It seems self-evident that either shipments or shoppers are the inbound vector for bedbugs. It’s a straightforward matter to proactively inspect the former, but we can’t body-search shoppers at the front door.

It may then be a good idea to institute elevated inspection procedures for items in the fitting rooms before they are returned to the racks.

Liz Crawford
Guest
10 years 7 months ago

There seems to be a humorous aspect to this problem…I am a little surprised no retailer has given assurances, while also finding some levity in the situation. Maybe hiring a cartoonist like Seth MacFarlane or someone to illustrate the problem & solution.

Also, if I had a decent track record, I might push for a standard measure of compliance. This could mean some stats like date of last bedbug found, date of last & next extermination, guarantees if bedbugs are found in clothing, etc. Those are the sort of solid answers that I think would assuage fears.

Ed Rosenbaum
Guest
10 years 7 months ago

New York, we have a problem. It is not just retailers and hotels. It is about the trust people have in coming to New York knowing they may bring the problem home with them. No one is interested in that. The city needs to be open and above board. The same with the places people, eat, shop, and sleep.

I did not know there is such a person as a bed bug expert. I would not have thought that to be a path one takes when graduating from college.

Lee Peterson
Guest
10 years 7 months ago

Boy, what else? A mondo-recession, hesitant customers, price wars, thick competition, weak fashion…now bugs? Not a great period for apparel retail! Only upside is, it’ll make good stories for your grandkids.

Doug Fleener
Guest
10 years 7 months ago

I just love the use of “insect-sniffing beagle.” Maybe you put the dog at the door and have them sniff customers as they go in and out.

I think you have to address it head on. I would have a sign right at the entrance communicating what steps you take to ensure no customers leave with a “gift” with purchase. I would also be grateful that you’re not in the hotel business.

Anne Howe
Guest
10 years 7 months ago

Retailers and hoteliers should adopt proactive communications with consumers about inspection dates and treatment procedures. In this case, no news is bad news. I’ve already called two hotels in Chicago and the one who gets my head in their bed is the one who had an official statement with a high degree of transparency!

Craig Sundstrom
Guest
10 years 7 months ago

Perhaps my being 3000+ miles from NYC has something to do with it, but I see this as much ado over nothing–well, OK, over little; I don’t think retailers should be “secretive,” but then I don’t really think there is any reason to be asking about the issue in the first place: follow the usual health and safety recommendations and deal with a problem if it comes up…why spend $$$ just to avoid the chance of having to spend $$$ later?

Anna Murray
Guest
Anna Murray
10 years 7 months ago

I live in New York City and therefore I read *obsessively* about bedbugs and how to prevent them. From what I can tell, there isn’t an effective way. You could bathe yourself, your children, your husband and your pet everyday in Clorox. But if someone goes to a hotel (or store or whatever) and picks up bedbugs, BOOM, you’ve got ’em. The elimination procedure is lengthy and sometimes literally dislocating.

I imagine within six months or a year, in New York at least, we’ll all be more accustomed to the conversation. We’ll have had a neighbor or family member who fell victim to bedbugs. At that point, there will be more of an understanding of retailers’ situations.

M. Jericho Banks PhD
Guest
M. Jericho Banks PhD
10 years 7 months ago

What ever happened to sleeping tight to prevent the bedbug’s bite? That’s what my mom would recommend.

Joel Warady
Guest
Joel Warady
10 years 7 months ago

It sounds to me like there should be an app for this.

Someone will get smart, create an iPhone and Android app that identifies which stores and which hotels have been infested with bedbugs. It can allow consumers to upload their own comments, photos of skin bites, etc. and share with fellow consumers what is happening with the bed bug world. This could also allow the retailers a way to communicate when their stores are reopening after a bed bug closure.

With every bed bug infestation, there is a silver lining.

Donna Bungo
Guest
Donna Bungo
10 years 7 months ago

Friday afternoon at the Home Depot in Long Island City, Queens, NY I discovered the 3 employees behind me were trying to corral a bedbug on the floor. One of the employees walked down the aisle (oddly it was the pest control aisle) and picked up a can of spray off the shelf. He sprayed the bedbug and the others watched to make sure it was dead. Perhaps this grouping of 3 employees are on bedbug patrol in the store. I doubt the store will be notified of the bedbug find by the employees.

My question is, how are these bedbug situations discovered in retail and who makes the call?

Odonna Mathews
Guest
Odonna Mathews
10 years 7 months ago

Proactive policies and constant vigilance should be the priorities of any retailer, especially in light on the bed bug blight. The Quality Assurance/Food Safety Director needs to be supported by operations to catch problems early and to take preventative actions.

Perhaps if more was done early at Niketown, closing the store could have been prevented. Let’s all learn from this experience.

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