Colorado Crotchless Panty Caper

Here’s a confusing question for you – Which of these things is not like the other one? Fuzzy animal backpacks, a child’s bathrobe, pint-sized high heels, and crotchless thong panties.

Wait, maybe that’s a trick question. Let’s do it this way – Which of these things would be the LAST thing you’d expect to find in a children’s apparel store? Fuzzy animal backpacks, a child’s bathrobe, pint-sized high heels, and crotchless thong panties.

Or, we could do it this way – If you had to pick a store display that said “Child Prostitution Ring” to you, what would you pick? I’ll go first:  Fuzzy animal backpacks, a child’s bathrobe, pint-sized high heels, and crotchless thong panties.

Three weeks after the story out of Greeley Colorado broke, I still have more questions than answers in the Crotchless Panty Caper. Mostly because the owners of Kids N Teen have not answered their phone for three weeks, and Greeley Mall management won’t return my phone calls. I even sent a mom into Kids N Teen and the mall management offices, and no one is interested in talking. Now, I’m a retailer, and I do two things. One, I answer my business phone every time it rings, because it is my business phone. Two, when a customer has a question, I make myself available to answer it.

But that isn’t the case here, as mall management told the mom I sent in to ask questions to leave, and then had her followed by security. And despite the pretty ballsy move by Kids N Teen to not only sell thong underwear in a store for children, but to also choose to order, receive shipment of, enter into inventory, tag, and then stock crotchless panties in juvenile sizes….No one at the Greeley Mall seems to think they need to answer to angry parents who find it grossly inappropriate to sell novelty sex items to children.

I am of the opinion that if you are a businessperson attempting to make money by sexualizing and pornifying childhood, you’re going to need to be prepared to answer to very angry parents.

I’ll tell you what I know first, and it is going to differ a little from what you might have already read. Then I’ll tell what I think I know, and then what I’d like to know. Keep in mind, only one media outlet covered this story – reported by Nick McGurk from Denver’s Channel 9. Anything else you have read or seen on ABC’s 20/20 or anywhere else came from Nick’s work, and the eyewitness accounts of two women. Erin French is the name you’ll recognize from the news, the other woman is Debbie. Debbie is the mother of the young girl who was featured in the news story, and who was approached by the male store owner. I worked with Erin and Debbie for three straight days to try to determine who the manufacturer of these panties is, and talked with them about how this has affected their families.

Information I have confirmed:

  • Kids N Teen opened in late October/early November and carries a very wide range of children’s apparel, apparently spanning from toddler to teenage years. This is an independent store, not part of a chain, and the two owners seem to be working in the store and do not have employees.
  • During the first two weeks of November, Kids N Teen was selling thong and crotchless thong panties.
  • The female owner admitted to Debbie that when the crotchless panties arrived at the store she was unsure if she should stock them or not, ultimately deciding to do so.
  • The crotchless panties were in the back of the store, displayed in its own section with these items: thong panties, fuzzy animal backpacks, childrens bathrobes, and pint-sized high heels. There was no seperate teen section, despite the store owner telling press the reason she carried the thong underwear was because 25% of her inventory is for teens.  
  • On or around November 14th, the Kids N Teen owners were asked by mall management to remove the crotchless panties (but not the thongs) from their shelves. Kids N Teen complied.
  • On November 15 I made numerous calls to popular lingerie retailers and was told by all of them that they do not carry crotchless panties, and that I would need to go to a “sex shop” to find an “racy item” like that.
  • On November 15 I made numerous attempts to contact both mall management for Greeley Mall and Kids N Teen. My messages were not returned.
  • On November 16 when I sent a mom back into Kids N Teen to try to buy a pair of the crotchless panties so that we could determine the manufacturer, she was told the store no longer carried them. When she pressed further to say she knew the store still had to have them on site and she just wanted to see who the manufacturer was, the store owner said she would not reveal her vendor. (I listened to this conversation via cell phone.)
  • On November 16 Erin and Debbie contacted the Greeley Police Department asking for their assistance, and expressing their concern of a larger issue at play with this store located directly across the walk-way from the children’s play area. The women were told the police could not do anything and there was no cause for investigation.
  • On November 17 when I spoke with the buyer for an adult store and novelty sex shop near my home, she said several things to me that are very important. One: She and her staff would absolutely give me any assistance needed to determine the manufacturer of these panties that very clearly come in extremely small sizes. The idea of child-sized crotchless panties apalled her.  Two: She has a very difficult time finding XSmall-sized lingerie and novelty garments for her own customers, and she felt someone who received very small crotchless panties most likely searched them out, and very intentionally ordered them.  Three: She felt very confident these items came from an overseas vendor, as with all of her years in the business she has never come across an American company making an item like this for the teen or children’s market. 
  • The four women involved in this story – Erin, Debbie, the adult store manager, and myself all admitted to each other coming to the same feeling independent of each other: This story stinks of child prostitution.

Let me be clear – at this point in time the only thing I think the Kids N Teen owners are guilty of is a grossly negligent and irresponsible decision to carry very racy thong and crotchless panties in an apparel store for children.

Let me be clear – as a former criminal investigator, when I was told all of the little pieces of this story that on their own don’t make a lot of sense, but when put together create a shady picture, my intuition tells me this story stinks of something bigger than a couple of racy panties hanging in a store in a dying shopping mall.

Other pieces of information, unconfirmed:

  • During the original shopping trip that Erin and Debbie were on when they filmed the crotchless panties, Debbie said that the middle-aged male store owner saw her seven year old daugther Paige looking at the display of thongs, told her the price fo the garment, and asked is she liked them and wanted a pair.
  • The owners of Kids N Teen own several other retail locations in the mall. The mall is struggling financially.
  • There were many questions from our Facebook Parent Community as to whether or not the store owners were foreign, maybe explaining a cultural difference in views on the panties. Because I have not spoken directly to the store owners, I will not comment further on this. I will say that I think crotchless panties have a rather universal understanding as to their purpose and use.
  • After an extensive internet search, I could not find crotchless panties that matched what Erin and Debbie showed us in the video made on their cell phone. I am at a dead end for determining who the manufacturer of the panties is.
  • The Kids N Teen owner claims she ordered the thongs for her store, but the crotchless panties were a free gift from her vendor. The adult store manager said she thought is was highly unlikely, as a new shop that only dedicates 25% inventory to teen apparel would not have placed a large enough wholesale order to earn an assortment of free lingerie. She also was highly suspect of all of the “free lingerie” being in such very small sizes.

So it is a great mystery, how these child-sized crotchless panties arrived at this children’s apparel store and who is responsible for making these in child sizes to begin with. But is there mystery in why the Kids N Teen owner decided to sell them? And the more important question, why did she think they would sell? When “family-friendly” department stores have been carrying panties in the junior’s section for years with highly sexually-suggestive slogans….how many steps away were we from selling actually novelty sex items to girls? When we will say NO MORE to retailers meeting their bottom line by sexualizating and pornifying our daughter’s girlhood? When will enough be enough?

Comments

  1. I am soo thankful to you for starting this site. I have felt like I have been fighting a no-win battle over issues with our kids and how disgusting society has become. I get infuriated at commercials, tv shows, etc. Everything is sex related. “you look sexy” or “that was sexy” is being said constantly on tv and radio like it’s normal. I can’t stand walking by the Victoria Secret store in the mall. My kids are usually with me and they don’t need to see their sexually suggestive pictures. Magazines at the grocery stores and other retail stores are right there in our kids faces teaching them all about sex and orgasms and all kinds of things they shouldn’t see or read. I complain to managers but they never do anything. I want to be part of an organization that stands up for our kids and preserving their innocence for as long as possible. I want America’s parents to fight back and say “enough!”. I could go on and on about my frustration and anger, but I’ll stop now. I’d love to hear more about ways we can make changes happen.

  2. Alicia Barnett says:

    This is going to sound horrid, but I wish one of the mom’s had bought a pair of the crotchless panties, just so we’d know who makes them. I also think its fishy that ANY vendor would give a stock large enough to see to a new store for free (but Im just a mom & high school teacher what do it know?). Ugh, the thought of some guy asking my daughter (who’s almost 5) in 2yr if she likes a thong & wants to buy it makes me want to physically hurt someone. I hope you start to find the answers you’re (and all of us!) are looking for…..

    • LOL – I sent Debbie into the store the very next day to buy me a pair! I was going to have her overnight them to me, and then I was going to meet with the manager of my local adult store to determine the manufacturer, and track them down.

  3. Just last night, I was teaching my 6 & 8 year old daughters about how twins happen and the difference between identical and fraternal. I used proper terminology for the parts involved. I’m liberal (some would say to a fault) about telling them what is what and what it’s all for.

    That said, I do not condone the sexiness being pushed on them from all directions. Thank you for helping pull the plug on this sort of nonsense.

    • There’s a real difference between using proper terms in sex-ed, and dressing up little girls like prostitots. (spelling intentional)

      • I agree Miaren. My 3 daughters (aged 5, 8, 9) know the facts of life but I will not have them sexualised as kids (or purchase any products that do so). I implore all parents to keep away from even the more subtle versions of sexualised products for kids…

  4. PLEASE PLEASE PLEASE keep talking about this with friends, family, whoever will listen. As Monica discussed above, sex is shoved in our kids’ faces from all angles. My most frustrating time is during school clothes shopping. My daughter’s in 4th grade, but every single year since she started school, we’ve had the discussion about what’s appropriate clothing for her age. I’m so proud of her when she quite loudly declares that she doesn’t care to dress like a rock star to attend school. Sadly, the same kind of crap is on the shelves every fall, which means someone is buying it. I’m certain of three things on this subject: that the complaints retailers respond to are not in the form of letters and verbal complaints, but rather in dollars; that my children are taught respect for their own bodies and others’; and that we must teach our kids how to stand up for what they believe in. Can we really count on retailers and advertisers to do any of this for us??

  5. Hmmmmm…I was hoping to check out Kids N Teen on the mall website, but they’re not listed. Too bad. Maybe business is SO GOOD they don’t need to advertise ;)

    • Lisa –
      At the time this story broke, the store was about two weeks old. When this story broke, I was told the store and the mall received death threats. I was not able to reach the mall office to confirm this, but I believe that is why the store is still not listed.

      The store’s number is 970-353-1795. Their mailing address is 1906 Greeley Mall Greeley CO 80631. They do not have a website or email contact.

  6. perhaps searching a colorado public database of business licenses will yield some info about the owners. at least maybe their names…

    • does anyone know the names of the other stores in the mall they these same people own?? i’m not finding any records for ‘kids n teen’.

  7. does anyone know the names of the other stores they own in the mall, i’m not finding any records for kids n teen in the colorado business database

  8. I am discusted right now with the whole thing! I just saw on a Christmas MOVIE for KIDS a female charater brush against the main male charater in a classic dance move you know the one where you brush your behind on his croch and slide down the legs? and my 2 yr old toddler try it! i turned that off right quick and came and read this and i just had to comment that this STINKS!

  9. You know what I think would be interesting…is to have somebody go in there “undercover” of sorts, and question the store managers from their side… saying something like “its just underwear!.. trying to bring small business etc” See if they’d be more apt to talk if there is someone on their side.

    • Shantal -
      I sent a mom in to the store to say she had a 19yo sister who was a dance (stripper) in Wyoming, and that she had heard the store carried some cute, sexy panties and she needed a small size because her younger sister was very petite. The store didn’t bite.

  10. YUCK YUCK YUCK!!!! Both my sons go to college in Greeley. Greeley is a little farm sort of town, that has grown over the years. I went to college there as well, and the mall was a horrible dark empty place 25 years ago. It has not changed, since then. I cannot imagine a more distributing item to find in a store! How irresponsible of anyone to display such items in their store. My boys will be home from college for break, however, I will ask them to go into the store. Would it not creep you out if they went in and asked to buy the panties and they actually sold them to men, not a mom! If that happens, I think another call to the Greeley PD would be appropriate!

  11. When you got to the part about the adult sex shop owner mentioning how hard it was to find extra-small items for her adult customers, I just felt this wave of “creepy” wash over me and thought the same thing re: child prostitution. I’m very interested to see what else you can dig up on this story, Melissa. Thanks for all you do…I know reporting on this sort of thing is NOT a cakewalk.

    • Cate -
      Literally had ice go through my blood when she was telling me that. She went on for several minutes about how frustrating it is for her to find XS-sized lingerie for her very tiny clients. She was adamant I understood these tiny crotchless panties were extremely difficult to find, and that they would have been found very intentionally.

  12. I am going to be in Greeley in two weeks visiting family. Is there anything I can do to help investigate this in any way?

    • Indi -
      I would love for you to go into the store, see if the thongs are still for sale and see how they are displayed. What items are near them? Does an employee approach you when you stand in front of the display? etc…

      And if you can tell me what the label says inside the thongs, that may be able to help us figure out which vendor supplied them to the store. Still a long shot, but at least it is a shot.

  13. As a mother on the other side of the world I am reading this story with as great a sense of dread and disgust as if it was happening in my local shopping centre. Thank you for publicising this and hounding these people, and for refusing to stop digging. My six year old daughter asked me just last week if “sexy” is a “bad” word – I told her it’s not rude like a swear word but it is a word that should only be used by grown ups about other grown ups, and is completely inappropriate for children both as a word and concept. I wish you well!

  14. Elizabeth T says:

    I don’t have daughters, but this topic just makes me enraged. If there is anything the rest of us outside of CO can do, can you let us know? e.g. I’m heading to Target this afternoon – I’m inspired to swing past the girl’s section and check out the undergarments.

    @Janie: thanks for the tip. I try to keep a stock of simple, truthful answers for the socially-awkward questions children ask that are age-appropriate.

  15. When I read that this is an Independent store and not run by a chain – then I am led to assume the owner purchased these panties.

    They didn’t just arrive to the store “unknown”. A store owner usually shops for AND buys all the items that are in their store. The store owner is completely and totally responsible and I think a boycott is in order.

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