QUEENSBURY -- A sports memorabilia store in Aviation Mall closed late Friday amid accusations the owner sold thousands of dollars worth of tickets to autograph signing events for professional wrestlers who had not agreed to attend his events.
Omega Sports had been in the mall for at least four years, and owner Donnie Bronson, who also goes by the name of Brendon Bronson, frequently advertised appearances by current and former professional wrestlers at his store.
In recent weeks, though, customers said he had been selling $50 to $100 tickets for signing events involving two major wrestlers, Ultimate Warrior and The Edge, at the mall this spring.
But last week, promoters for both wrestlers issued statements saying they were not aware of the events and had not agreed to come to the mall.
In one of the statements, staff for Ultimate Warrior said Bronson told them he had been victimized by a "fraudulent agent." But the wrestler's website said Bronson continued to sell tickets for the signing even after the wrestler's managers confronted him about the issue.
Tickets for a signing by the wrestler Rikishi had been sold for an event that was supposed to take place Saturday, but those who showed up for it found the store closed and dark with no wrestler in sight.
"There were many unhappy customers at the mall Saturday thinking we'd be meeting Rikishi - and about half of those people had purchased tickets for upcoming signings there," customer and Kingsbury resident Al Engels said.
Engels said he purchased $75 worth of tickets to two upcoming signing events, including The Edge signing.
He said Bronson has had numerous other signing events that were canceled at the last minute for strange reasons, including one in which Bronson said a wrestler suffered food poisoning in Queensbury, though the wrestler disavowed having any knowledge of the event or ever being in Warren County.
"Brendon gave us some free autographs of past people he had in the shop as a sorry," Engels said.
Bronson moved the store to Warren County from the Buffalo area, where he had similar issues, Engels said.
Queensbury resident Michelle Pond said her husband purchased tickets for upcoming events at Omega Sports, as well as for one of The Edge or Ultimate Warrior signing events this spring.
"The store is closed, and no one is answering their phone. How are we supposed to get our money back?" she asked.
The Post-Star has heard from two other customers who purchased autograph session tickets and were seeking refunds. At least two said they planned to contact police, but sheriff's Lt. Steve Stockdale said the agency's Investigation Division had not been contacted about the case as of Monday.
Messages left on a cellphone voice mail that customers said Bronson used was not returned Monday.
In a statement posted on the business's blog on the website squidoo, a person representing himself as "Omega Sports" wrote Thursday night that he believed he had been mistreated by mall managers who did not want wrestler events at the mall, and he was looking into moving to another mall.
"This mall is not going to all of a sudden become a happy place to do our events, so I will look into Wilton ASAP," he wrote.
Leah Palmer, Wilton Mall's marketing manager, said the mall had not heard from anyone affiliated with Omega Sports as of Monday.
Ultimate Warrior's website urged those who purchased tickets to contact the mall for a refund.
Aviation Mall Manager Terri Walsh said she has heard from a number of Omega Sports customers who claimed they were owed money by the business for tickets purchased to upcoming autograph sessions.
"It's very concerning to me that this has happened to our customers," she said.
She would not say whether the store was asked to close but said her office was left with "unresolved concerns" about the closure.