KANSAS CITY, Mo. -- A Brookside business is answering questions after a fire.
Parents are concerned after discovering local baby clothes and supply store Itsy Bitsy Bums may have sold smoke-damaged baby items to a discount sales store in another state.
The storefront sits at 62nd and Oak, but has been closed since the fire at a nearby restaurant back in April.
Former customers are upset to learn other parents are now buying those damaged items without even knowing.
“I really wanted to believe that it was a great family-friendly store, and that they wouldn't do something like that, that would put babies and children in harm's way,” said Heather Knox, a former customer.
Knox used to shop at Itsy Bitsy Bums for her two kids until she read claims online that the store sold smoke-damaged items to a discount store in Tennessee.
“It just kind of broke my heart,” Knox added. “I think families have a right to know what they're putting on their babies.”
Customers noticed some of the company's exclusive items and prints on social media for sale at ‘B&B Discount Sales' in a town outside Chattanooga, Tennessee.
“The smoke permeated everything in the store. One of the employees posted pictures, and it was coating everything, and I don't think there's a way you can really get that out of some of the materials, like the stuffed animals and the blankets that babies are going to be putting their faces on. I don't think there's any way to get all that out and be 100 percent sure,” Knox said.
Mark Flores owns Itsy Bitsy Bums. Because insurance didn’t cover all of his losses, Flores said he was advised to sell his merchandise to a salvager. He said he used a reputable broker to help navigate the process, but said once the merchandise left his store, he was no longer involved.
“To find out they went and sold it in another state, instead of even through a discount store here, it just kind of looks like they were trying to cover it up,” Knox said.
A manager at B&B Discount told FOX 4 Flores contacted them, and while they knew there was a fire, she said Flores told her the items were clean and sellable.
She also pointed to a wire transfer, showing B&B Discount wired the money for the sale, directly to Flores.
“For the families that have purchases from them, or are still buying them, someone needs to let them know,” said Amanda Benscoter, a former Itsy Bitsy Bums employee.
Benscoter said she refuses to shop there again.
“We are very careful about what we feed them, what goes on their body, every single aspect, and to find out that someone misled you, or lied about it, I mean that's potentially harming your child,” she said.
Itsy Bitsy Bums released an official statement on Wednesday.
Hi everyone -
We wanted to send you an update, as we have received lots questions since the fire and what has happened with our merchandise since then. On April 13, 2017, our store experienced smoke damage from the fire that occurred at the Oak Street shops (63rd & Oak). As you may know, many small businesses were affected by the fire.
During this difficult time, we used a very reputable broker to help us navigate this process.
Based on our circumstances, our insurance did not cover all of the losses. We were advised to sell our merchandise to a salvager and went through the steps as instructed. After the merchandise was removed from our store, we were no longer involved.
As the owners, we wanted to ensure that this process was handled in the best way possible. The salvager was aware of our situation and we trusted that all of the items would be thoroughly inspected by the salvager prior to being distributed to their retail outlets. We were not in control of the merchandise after it was removed from our store and were not aware of what merchandise would be sold.
We are thankful to have a wonderful team that has assisted us through this devastating situation and are working tirelessly to ensure we handle this situation in the best way.
As our customers know, our store is very meaningful to us. We will be sure to keep you updated with further information.
We ask for your understanding through this devastating time. We are trying to answer questions as best as we can.