June 17, 2020 By Allie Griffin
The New York State Liquor Authority (SLA) rejected an application for a mega wine and liquor outlet store slated for College Point.
The SLA members voted unanimously to deny the application last week for Total Wine & More, which planned to open a mega store at 30-02 Whitestone Expressway. The agency said that the liquor outlet would provide no benefit to the community.
Total Wine & More, a large national chain dubbed the “Walmart” of the liquor industry, faced sharp opposition from local mom-and-pop wine shops in the College Point and Flushing area where it sought to open this fall.
Michelle Trone, the daughter of the chain’s co-founder and Maryland Congressman David Trone, applied to open a Total Wine & More at the former Toys R Us building on Whitestone Expressway in August 2019.
Licensing laws prohibit wine and liquor store owners from operating more than one store in the state.Total Wine & More opened its first location in the state in Long Island in 2017 and its bid last year to open a store in Westchester County was rejected.
Trone filed the application for the Queens operation under the name–“MCT New York Fine Wines & Spirits LLC” and said it was her own store.
Trone positioned herself as a young female entrepreneur, although she did say that the store would be named Total Wine & More.
Local shop owners grew wary of her and her relationship to the chain.
The small business owners, many of immigrants, said that their businesses would be irrevocably hurt by the mega discount store and that they would lose their livelihoods.
They argued that Queens is already saturated with liquor stores and there isn’t a need for a mega retailer.
Nearly three dozen local officials have come to the support of the small package store owners. Many sent letters to the SLA, requesting the authority reject the application.
Assembly Member Ron Kim, who attended a rally against the chain in September 2019, celebrated the SLA’s rejection.
“A big win for our mom & pop liquor stores! Took us months, but we successfully fought off Big Liquor (Total Wine) from coming into Queens!” he wrote on Twitter.
The company is likely to appeal the decision, the New York Post reported.