By  on July 7, 2010

NEW YORK — Abercrombie & Fitch Co. is still investigating its bedbug problem in Manhattan, but hoping to reopen the Abercrombie & Fitch unit in the South Street Seaport on Thursday.

The company’s Hollister flagship on Broadway and Houston Street in SoHo reopened Saturday after the infestation was exterminated, and on Tuesday saw good traffic despite the scorching heat (and being temporarily tainted), with Broadway busy midday. Hollister male models in swim trunks at the entrance drew attention to the store, and air-conditioning added to the appeal. Inside, several shoppers sipped iced coffees as traffic seemed to build. There was one worker vacuuming, but when asked if she was chasing the bugs, an associate assured: “No, that’s for the rugs — to get the dust off.”

The problem appears to be isolated, with neighboring businesses including Ann Taylor in the Seaport and 24-Hour Fitness center situated above Hollister, both reporting no sightings or bitings. A&F’s Fifth Avenue store is also clean.

Bed bugs have reached epidemic proportions in New York. Most cases have been reported by residents, though it’s possible other businesses are infested.

“We take this problem very seriously,” said an A&F spokeswoman. One source speculated the bugs could have been inside some of the store’s antique furniture, noting the tiny rust-colored, blood sucking bugs are typically found in mattresses. Or they could have come from clothing a customer returned or clothing shipped to the store or from some other Manhattan location.

“This whole thing doesn’t make sense,” said the source.“It had to come from somewhere.”

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