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You'd think the current plague of tiny biting beasts would scare people off second-hand stores, but according to today's New York Times, it hasn't harmed vintage sales this summer. People who work at used clothing stores around the city told the paper that business is fine, although they are answering a lot more bed bug questions than usual.
Some chains have instituted new precautions: Housing Works fumigates its stores and its Long Island City processing center and inspects donors homes before accepting furniture, and Goodwill sprays its stores and its processing center as well. If you're really paranoid, though, you might want to stay away from Beacon's Closet, which studies drop-offs carefully but doesn't seem to have an extermination plan in place.
Councilwoman Gale A. Brewer suggests avoiding thrift stores entirely, but that's not necessarily practical if you want to a) shop in a socially responsible, non-waste-producing manner or b) avoid going broke. What you can do is follow the advice suggested by vintage expert Bridgett Artise: If you buy anything vaguely suspicious, put it in a plastic bag and leave it in the freezer for three days. Once it thaws, take it to a dry cleaner. Sure, this means waiting a little while to wear new purchases, but it also means being able to sleep at night without miniature vampires feasting on your blood, so it seems like a fair trade.
· Among Flea Market Shoppers, Fear of a Different Insect [NYT]
· All Bed Bug Fest 2010 coverage [Racked NY]