After a major victory earlier this year in Tennessee, Total Wine may take a loss in Queens, NY.
Nearly three dozen city, state and federally elected officials have reversed course and come out against a proposed application for a Total Wine in the College Point neighborhood of Queens. This follows a strong public outcry by local Queens small-business wine and liquor stores.
Residents in September learned that the State Liquor Authority (SLA) was considering an application for a new 30,000 square-foot-store. The application was filed by Michelle Trone, daughter of Total Wine Co-founder and Maryland Congressman David Trone.
The business on the application was listed as MCT New York Fine Wines & Spirits LLC, but many retailers feared that a Total Wine clone was coming in.
Numerous elected officials who originally signed on to support the project reportedly did so without knowing the Total Wine connection. After that part of the proposal became public information, politicians began dropping out in support of the smaller retailers in the area.
“Total Wine would be a total disaster for small businesses in western Queens and I urge the State Liquor Authority to reject its application,” says New York State Senate Deputy Leader Michael Gianaris. “I stand with small business owners to fight for a stronger community and against further intrusions from anti-competitive businesses that prey on our small businesses.”
Adds Assemblyman Ron Kim, “There are already over 350 package stores in Queens. Almost every one of those stores are run by a “mom and pop” owner who lives in the same community and operates right on their main street. Every one of those “mom and pop” proprietors will have their very existence threatened by the arrival of big box wine.”
U.S. Representative Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez advised the SLA Chairman in a letter that she was “deeply concerned about the potential impacts. As a large retailer with ties to a billion-dollar nationwide chain, Total Wine has access to resources and economics of scales with which smaller retailers could not compete. Our small businesses would not be able to compete with such practices and it would be devastating to the largely immigrant community that is currently employed at many of these stores.”
In defense of her proposal, Trone said that the consumers would patronize her store only a handful of times per year to stock up for parties, holidays and other events. She also claimed that historical data backs the long-term sustainability of smaller beverage alcohol retailers, even with a Total Wine nearby.