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Planet K Hopes Renaming Itself Will Convince San Antonio To Let It Reopen As An Essential Business

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Joey Palacios | Texas Public Radio

Planet K announced on Wednesday that it changed its name to Planet K Bodega, with the hope that the City of San Antonio would allow its locations to reopen as essential businesses.

In a statement on Wednesday, the chain of smoke shops cited the U.S. Department of Homeland Security’s definition of essential employees: “Workers supporting groceries, pharmacies, convenience stores, and other retail (including unattended and vending) that sells human food, animal/pet food and pet supply, and beverage products, including retail customer support service and information technology support staff necessary for online orders, pickup and delivery.”

The company's statement explained that “We have now changed our name to Planet K Bodega in hopes that the San Antonio authorities will understand that Planet K is essential according to San Antonio’s own plagiarized N.Y.C. description of essential being ‘a bodega.’  ”

"We believe we have now settled any questions they have about Planet K’s essentialness," the statement added.

San Antonio officials did not return TPR’s request for comment. Earlier this month, Mayor Ron Nirenberg and Bexar County Judge Nelson Wolff both emphasized their no-tolerance approach to any defiance of the emergency order to close nonessential businesses and keep people home and safe.

But Michael Kleinman, the store's founder, claimed at the time that he was trying to sell essential items, including food, toilet paper and hand sanitizer. He argued that his stores in San Antonio were similar to convenience stores that were still open.

City spokesman Jeff Coyle explained that San Antonio cracked down on Planet K after repeated warnings to comply with the emergency order.

“The City’s building codes do not permit the business from re-opening until the City issues a new Certification of Occupancy, “ Coyle said in a statement. “The owner will have to apply for a new Certificate of Occupancy, upon which time the City, through its Development Services Department, will review for compliance with applicable codes."

It was unclear if the chain, which has operated stories in San Antonio since 1990, applied for a new certificate before changing its name.

Planet K has said it understands and promotes the importance of social distancing and public health.

Brian Kirkpatrick can be reached at Brian@TPR.org and on Twitter at @TPRBrian.