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July 23, 2012 - 7:14pm

Records incomplete on precise ownership of The 420 Emporium in Batavia

posted by Howard B. Owens in batavia, synthetic drugs, bath salts.

Two common questions around town about The 420 Emporium at 400 Ellicott St., Batavia, are "who owns it?" and "what does 420 mean?"

On the ownership question: Neither the City of Batavia nor Genesee County require business licenses. The store has not applied for (and apparently doesn't need) any sort of variance to operate nor has it applied for a sign permit. Technically, the store owner should apply for a "doing business as" fictitious name statement, but The 420 Emporium in Batavia has not done that, according to available records.

Amber Snover (inset photo), a Rochester resident, claims ownership on her Facebook page of the Brockport, Fulton, Henrietta and Syracuse outlets. 

This afternoon, The Batavian called Snover and asked if she owned the Batavia store. She claimed she did not. She also denied ownership of the Brockport, Fulton, Henrietta and Syracuse locations. She then hung up the phone.

We followed up with a text message and pointed out that she claimed ownership of the stores on her Facebook profile and she accused The Batavian of harassing her.

We then tried to call Joshua L. Denise, a Rochester resident who reportedly works at The 420 Emporium location in Batavia, and asked if he or Amber Snover owned the store and he immediately hung up the phone.

Snover represented The 420 Emporium at a Village of Brockport meeting in November after apparently running afoul of zoning rules that required a change of use permit for the 420 location at 14 Market St. The location had previously been a tattoo parlor and apparently Brockport's planning department needed to be notified of the change from service to mercantile.

Snover, according to the board minutes, said she was ignorant of the village's ordinance on the matter and apologized for not applying for the change before opening.

According to the minutes, Snover reportedly said she owned the store in Fulton.

Board members expressed concern about the depictions of marijuana in the shop's window and questioned why the store was open until midnight.

She reportedly said "that's when the sales are the highest."

Snover reportedly told board members she was previously employed at Look ah Hookah in Henrietta. That location was recently named in a lawsuit filed by the Attorney General's office aimed at curbing bath salt sales.

From the Viilage of Brockport Planning Board minutes:

Member Winner inquired what state agency determines what is appropriate in her store and she replied ATF. He asked if she had had any trouble with them and she said no, as a matter of fact, she just contacted ATF last week to see if it is okay to ID people at the door; they said it is fine. When asked if there had been any complaints filed with state or federal agencies, she said no. She was at her previous store less than one year and did have a fiduciary responsibility in that business.

At the time of the meeting, November 2011, Brockport PD reportedly walked through the store and found no illegal items on sale.

Snover reportedly gave two explanations to the board for the name "420 Emporium." One was that "420" is code for marijuana; the other that it was the date of a former partner's birthday.

The history of 420 as a code for marijuana goes back to 1971 when a group of San Rafael, Calif., high school students who called themselves "The Waldos" used to meet at 4:20 p.m. at a statue of French chemist and microbiologist Louis Pasteur to plan their search for a supposed secret, hidden cannabis crop in the area. By legend, 4:20 is the socially acceptable time to smoke marijuana.

Snover is also listed in domain name records as the owner of the420emporium.com, which she registered in February.

We are awaiting delivery of incorporation records from the NYS Division of Corporations, which should list the owner(s).

UPDATE 6:55 a.m., Tuesday:  It turns out the Monroe County Clerk's Web site has a copy of The 420 Emporium's incorporation application available. It lists a Charles D. Fitzgerald as the person who incorporated the company. Fitzgerald is mentioned as the owner of The 420 Emporium in Fulton in a story about his arrest on 42 counts of criminal possession of weapon when police allegedly found 43 brass knuckles in the store.

Fitzgerald, 36, the story notes, had a prior criminal conviction. The police made the arrest following an investigation into a reported theft of "incense" from the store. Fitzgerald was arrested in November. The incorporation application was filed in August. It lists the same address in Rochester that is associated with the domain registration for the420emporium.com, which lists Amber Snover as the owner of the domain.

Note that Snover mentioned a "former partner" in the hearing in Brockport, according to the minutes. Further research on the property address associated with the incorporation and the domain registration indicates it's actually in Greece, not Rochester.

Janice Stenman
Janice Stenman's picture
Last seen: 6 years 10 months ago
Joined: Mar 8 2009 - 2:15pm

Howard, I am glad you are on this. What prevents anyone from opening a storefront for any purpose? It is unfair to the residents and unfair to legitimate business owners.

Frank Bartholomew
Frank Bartholomew's picture
Last seen: 8 months 1 week ago
Joined: Apr 4 2010 - 8:02pm

There was a head shop in the early 70's right around the can and bottle redemption store on Ellicott St..It was called Metamorphis.Most of the teens I hung out with went there to buy pipes, bongs, rolling papers, scales, and many other drug paraphanalia items.
Back then, no one cared, and they went away. There was no age requirement as I recall, to purchase anything in the store.
Probably because there was acid, mesculine, thc, crystal meth, coke, demeral, dilaudid, morphine, heroin,pot, hashish, amphetamines, tie stick, hash oil,qualudes,
barbituates, and the booty from never ending drug store break ins, available on the street.
With the new laws in place, I would expect the 420 is selling pretty much the same type of items that were being sold 40 years ago, without all the bs.

Cj Gorski
Cj Gorski's picture
Last seen: 6 years 9 months ago
Joined: Mar 31 2010 - 9:57pm

Succès de scandale.

Jeff Allen
Jeff Allen's picture
Last seen: 3 weeks 6 days ago
Joined: Jun 5 2009 - 4:17pm

CJ, great point. A business that sells things that are close to, but not quite illegal or accessorize illegal activity, relies heavily on the "screw the establishment" crowd. Due to the exposure, negative or otherwise, business has probably never been better. And if you think you are on your way out anyway, grab all the business you can before the doors close.

Frank Bartholomew
Frank Bartholomew's picture
Last seen: 8 months 1 week ago
Joined: Apr 4 2010 - 8:02pm

More news, one of the owners at 420 said he is not making any plans on closing the doors anytime soon.
With the ban on spice, pipes, and papers will be a booming business, as everyone goes back to pot.
He said he carries 40 different wraps, and a huge selection of smoking accessiories.

Howard B. Owens
Howard B. Owens's picture
Last seen: 7 hours 16 min ago
Joined: Apr 23 2008 - 3:05pm

What's his name, Frank?

How do you know he's an owner?

Where and when did you speak to him?

What else did you expect him to say? Did he pay you for this marketing message?

Frank Bartholomew
Frank Bartholomew's picture
Last seen: 8 months 1 week ago
Joined: Apr 4 2010 - 8:02pm

The name is unimportant, I spoke to the person on several occassions, including the day 420 opened.
I was letting them know what they had got themselves into, by setting up shop in Batavia. Sort of like a community service bulletin in reverse.
No pay here Howard, just telling a story as it unfolds.

Kyle Couchman
Kyle Couchman's picture
Last seen: 5 years 3 months ago
Joined: Dec 25 2009 - 8:54am

Seems like BS to me. Just sayin....

Howard B. Owens
Howard B. Owens's picture
Last seen: 7 hours 16 min ago
Joined: Apr 23 2008 - 3:05pm

If you're going to tell the story and play reporter, then go the whole length and provide the name of your source. Credibility requires names.

John Woodworth JR
John Woodworth JR's picture
Last seen: 6 years 12 months ago
Joined: May 28 2009 - 11:13am

Howard, the individual's credibility is lacking and I doubt highly he/she spoke to anyone. Sounds like someone likes to visit 420 though.

Kyle Couchman
Kyle Couchman's picture
Last seen: 5 years 3 months ago
Joined: Dec 25 2009 - 8:54am

I'm thinking we need another protest, a little more agressive one. Is it legal to actually block a business I mean jus stand in front of the place with such a large crowd that it is effectively shut down. In my experience I know that alcoholic bev laws and trespassing laws can be overlooked if you have a big enough crowd. Students at Cornell do it on several occasions during the year the dont arrest anyone they just keep people off the streets. The police chief there at the time that we landlords and tenants were complaining about trespassing and public intoxicatio/urination and harassment had said theres just too many of them, our job is to keep people safe first. So maybe something similar can happen here?

Frank Bartholomew
Frank Bartholomew's picture
Last seen: 8 months 1 week ago
Joined: Apr 4 2010 - 8:02pm

I was asked not to provide a name. I've been following this story, (bath salts, spice) since the stuff was being sold on the rez, basically, because someone I know and love got tangled up with this stuff.
Kyle, try unplugging the machine, any bs is coming from under your nose.
From what I have seen and heard, the chemist will come up with new recipes, and it will be game on again. One of these attempts to circumvent unbalanced substance control laws is going to result in the sale of something lethal, just a matter of time.
I agree with the law enforcement person who suggested arresting the users, that makes more sense. If their actions warrant concern for public safety, throw their asses in jail, just like a disorderly drunk.

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