Trouble continues to loom at gray market smoke shops.
At roughly 2 p.m. on Friday, June 16, two men believed to be in their 20s walked into Mr. Exotix at 426 East 73rd Street, between York and First avenues. Mr. Exotix is a smoke shop that also sells “unique and exotic snacks from around the globe.”
While one suspect looked around at merchandise, the other pulled a gun on the 24-year-old clerk and demanded they go to the back of the store and not move.
We’re told the two males – described as having dark complexion while wearing green and gray clothing – took $400 in cash from the register along with $500 worth of store merchandise. In the midst of a rainstorm, the men fled the shop on foot, heading westbound on East 73rd Street.
No injuries were reported. ESF spoke briefly on the phone with a Mr. Exotix employee on Friday. He denied knowing anything about the robbery, saying he just works as an operator to help people with directions as they have close to a dozen stores. The employee said he would call us back, but we haven’t heard back from him, and our follow-up call went unanswered on June 17.
ESF also spoke to an employee at The New End, a hair salon next door (at the same address). The employee disclosed that they were unaware of the robbery and only got wind that something happened when the police came to investigate.
Anyone with relevant information about either incident is asked to call the NYPD’s Crime Stoppers Hotline at 1-800-577-TIPS (8477) or for Spanish, 1-888-57-PISTA (74782). The public can also submit their tips by logging onto the CrimeStoppers website or by sending a direct message to @NYPDTips on Twitter. All calls are strictly confidential.
At first glance, Mr. Exotix just looks like an interesting snack shop, with items including Lay’s Fried Crab Chips, Tiramisu Oreo Knots and chicken flavored Cheetos. They even offer Monthly Munch Box subscriptions as a “great way to try new and exotic flavors from around the world.”
Then, there’s a Mr. Exotix’s Smokers Club tab on their site, a private group you have to request to join.
Lots of gray market smoke shops have been selling imported snacks to complement their main business. Mr. Exotix, however, appears to be using snacks as the face of its business.