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Conspiracy Theory: Bed Bugs May Be the New Ammo in Store Wars

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    NEWSLETTERS

    It's no secret that stores have been in an all-out panic lately over the city's next big threat to the retail economy: bed bugs. With news that Bloomingdales and Macy's have both fallen victim to the pests these past few days, quickly following the infestation of two Nike locations last week, no store is safe.

    And shoppers are bugging out. The very words "bed bugs" are enough to induce a preconditioned hysteria, as anyone who's experienced them before knows how hard it is to rid the critters from their homes. Nowadays claiming that a store has bed bugs is practically the equivalent of calling in a bomb scare, which is perhaps, we'd venture to say, what many stores might start doing to each other.

    Just as high-end designer brands have been deviously undermining one another by anonymously sending competitors' "It" bags to public figures that don't exactly live up to the label's image, in what Simon Doonan describes in the New York Observer as "a wicked new marketing strategy" (aka the "Snooki Effect"), we're willing to wager that bed bugs might be the next form of ammo in retail wars.

    While it's still a theory on our part, it's not an entirely unfounded one. Earlier this summer we received an email from a tipster stating that furniture was being carried out from one of the Ralph Lauren flagship stores on the Upper East Side, which ended with the questioning statement, "Bed bugs?" We jumped on the phone and called the store immediately, and while it turned out to merely be a case of renovations, if an infestation had been the culprit, we would have reported. As bed bugs have become even more of a rampant threat since then, all it might take is one scheming tipster--evidence or no evidence--to set off a wave of sales-suffering mass hysteria.