Moms upset smoke-damaged baby products are being resold in Tennessee

Posted at 8:00 PM, May 25, 2017
and last updated 2017-05-25 21:00:39-04

"We, meaning the community, supported them. It's been a lot of silence, intentional silence. Just own it," Nicole Parreno told 41 Action News. 

She used to shop at Itsy Bitsy Bums, a high-end baby boutique in Brookside, and said new accusations are shocking.

Her, and hundreds of other moms on Facebook, want to know why smoke-damaged goods from Itsy Bitsy Bums ended up at B&B Discount Sales in Hixson, Tennessee.

"We're concerned for the safety of those products and them being used on other people's children," Parreno said.

A fire broke out on April 13 at Plate restaurant several doors down from Itsy Bitsy Bums. The owners, Mark and Abby Flores, who also own COCO next door, told 41 Action News everything had smoke damage.

Mark Flores said in an interview that they had a lot of work ahead of them.

A Facebook user posted pictures from inside the boutique the day after the fire, showing soot on baby plates, toys, and clothes.

On May 19, B&B Discount Sales in Hixson announced it had gotten a special shipment. The manager confirmed the shipment came from Itsy Bitsy Bums. 

The owner also confirmed to the NBC affiliate in Chattanooga, WRCB-TV, that the items are from the boutique.

"Teethers, the food. There's food. Bottles, plates, pacifiers," Parreno listed off items seen on B&B's Facebook post. Some items are exclusive to Itsy Bitsy Bums.

The Flores's said in a Facebook post on Wednesday that their insurance didn't cover all the losses, and they used a salvage company to resell what they could. They said after the inventory was removed on May 15, they didn't know where it all went.

But Lisa Matthews, manager at B&B Discount Sales, said they knew. She sent a picture of a wire transfer showing B&B directly paid Itsy Bitsy Bums LLC a little over $30,000 for the goods. 

Matthews said B&B is a salvage company and most of its product is from insurance salvage. She said they knew there'd been a fire, but insists the product is in "excellent shape." 

B&B's owner, Bud Hixson, also told WRCB-TV that the products are sanitary after being washed, and his customers are happy.

After people on Facebook started confronting Itsy Bitsy Bums with the accusations, the page commented on a thread: "Unfortunately there isn't a way to clean anything to make it safe again. Everything was so, so saturated with smoke."

41 Action News reached out to Mark and Abby Flores for comment, but they didn't respond.

The chief deputy at a local fire department said soot and smoke residue is the result of incomplete combustion, and any number of potentially dangerous chemicals could be remain. He said if restoration services can clean items they pose no hazard.

Parreno and other parents in the metro and Tennessee wonder what kind of danger still lurks in those items.

"If it's not fit for you to sell in your store, why would you believe that it's fit to sell in another store?" Parreno said.

Matthews said they pulled the food items, plates and cups from the shelves as a precaution. She said they also posted a sign in the store advising customers to wash everything before using.

Several manufacturers whose items ended up at B&B have all issued warnings to their customers.

Smart Bottoms, a cloth diaper company, said it’s making arrangements to take its product from B&B and is offering refunds. 

GroVia, another cloth accessory company, said it’s "appalled" and is also offering refunds.

Re-Play, a company that makes kiddie plate ware out of recycled materials, said reselling its items is unauthorized.