Pubdate: Fri, 15 Nov 2002
Source: Repository, The
Copyright: 2002 The Repository
Author: LORI MONSEWICZ, Repository staff writer


Rachel Travers (right) demands Your Pizza Shop manager Jeff Amsden remove 
the advertisement of the shop's pizza special from the sign outside the 
business on 12th Street NW at Cleveland Avenue. The sign announces the 
business' "420 special." The number has been used as code among marijuana 
smokers to light up. Travers told Amsden that if he doesn't remove the 
sign, she will. Amsden told her that if she removes the sign, he will call 
police and press charges.

Hey, Mom and Dad. Ever wonder what your kids and their friends are talking 
about when you overhear them discussing "420?"

Patrons of a local pizza shop evidently know what the code name means: 
marijuana. The High Times magazine Web site notes that 420 was first used 
in 1971 by a group of San Rafael, Calif., students who would meet after 
school at 4:20 p.m. to smoke pot.

Others say the term may have developed from police radio codes or even from 
a rock band's lyrics.

The term is popular with the marijuana-smoking subculture.

Your Pizza Shop at 420 12th St. NW is advertising a "420 special" for 
anyone with the "munchies," another reference familiar to pot smokers.

"We know that it makes reference to it, but it's also a marketing niche. A 
lot of people come in and get a good laugh out of it," said Adam 
Charlikowskyi, manager.

Jeff Amsden, another manager, said, "We do get a lot of orders on that 
sign" because of what it says.

Rachel Travers, who lives a few blocks away, doesn't appreciate their sense 
of humor.

"This is making me sick to my stomach," she said Thursday. "Most crimes are 
committed while under the influence of a drug or alcohol. (This 
advertising) is like saying, `Sure. Drive down my street while you're doped 
up, come get your pizza and then come rob my house.' Because that's 
basically what it says. It just disgusts me."

Since early summer, the business has been using the code number advertising 
daily specials, such as Munchie Monday, Toasted Tuesday and Green Leaf 
Wednesday. Amsden said customers ask for those specials by name -- and 
usually with a giggle.

"This (campaign) took off pretty good once we started putting the fliers 
around," said employee Mick Rosteen. Some fliers advertising the "420 Daily 
Specials, When you have the urge to munch ..." also were taped to pizza boxes.

Charlikowskyi said the advertising is aimed at attracting "a younger 
crowd," pointing out that the neighborhood is primarily comprised of 
younger adults.

"I'm 22 and I have no interest in this whatsoever," Travers countered.

A Malvern native, she moved into the neighborhood about two weeks ago as a 
renter, and had been considering buying a home there.

"It's a nice neighborhood," she said. "The houses are well taken care of. 
So far, all of my neighbors have been extremely friendly. It's clean. 
Nobody has trash in their yard. There are no junk cars, and nobody has dogs 
chained up in the back yard. The businesses are well-established.

"But this (sign) does not represent the neighborhood well at all. I don't 
want to be known as the girl who lives down the street from the pot-smoking 
pizza shop."

The managers said Travers has been the only one to complain.

When the three met with a Repository reporter and photographer at the sign 
Thursday afternoon, Travers started a heated discussion with the men, 
demanding to know, "Why do you have to market to lowlife like this?"

Amsden replied, "It brings the neighborhood in."

The two traded educational background information, and while Travers 
demanded they remove the sign, Amsden defended it, saying it was a "freedom 
of speech" issue.

Travers threatened to return later and remove the letters herself. Amsden 
informed her that he would call the police and file criminal charges.

"It's not ethical, it's not right and I'm not going to stand for it," 
Travers said.

SIGN OF CONTENTION. Rachel Travers (right) lives a few blocks from this 
pizza shop and doesn't appreciate the business' sense of humor when it 
comes to advertising. Managers Jeff Amsden (center) and Adam Charlikowskyi 
say the sign, which highlights a marijuana subculture code for smoking the 
illegal weed, has improved business.
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MAP posted-by: Larry Stevens