Queens small business owners to rally against Total Wine store

The Total Wine store is proposed for 30-02 Whitestone Expy. in College Point, where a Toys 'R' Us used to be located. Photo Credit: Howard Simmons

The merchants say they won’t be able to compete with the chain retailer, which wants to move into a 30,000-square-foot space.

The Total Wine store is proposed for 30-02 Whitestone Expy. in College Point, where a Toys 'R' Us used to be located.
The Total Wine store is proposed for 30-02 Whitestone Expy. in College Point, where a Toys ‘R’ Us used to be located. Photo Credit: Badal Patel

Queens liquor and wine shop owners will rally against a proposed Total Wine & More store Monday evening. 

The planned location for the Total Wine store is a 30,000-square-foot former Toys ‘R’ Us at 30-02 Whitestone Expy. in College Point. An application for a license with the State Liquor Authority was filed in August.

But local mom-and-pop owners are worried the chain store’s “aggressive and litigious business practices” would force them to shut down. They plan to rally with members of the Metropolitan Package Store Association, (MetroPSA) union workers and Queens Assemblyman Ron Kim outside the Sheraton LaGuardia East Hotel on 39th Avenue, between Main and Prince streets, in Flushing at 5:30 p.m. The hotel is where the MetroPSA will meet following the demonstration, a spokesman said. 

“Total Wine is a large chain retailer that enters and monopolizes local markets through predatory practices, including undercutting prices to drive out small business competitors,” Kim said in a statement. “There is a clear pattern of unfairly undermining mom-and-pop stores and harming independently owned liquor stores that we have seen time and time again in other states, and we cannot allow it to happen again here in our community.”

Kim’s district borders College Point and includes Flushing, Linden Hill and Murray Hill. About a dozen of his colleagues in the State Assembly — including Assemblyman Daniel Rosenthal, who represents College Point — signed a letter to the State Liquor Authority in support of the Total Wine store, which is expected to employ 175 people. 

Total Wine & More is based in Bethesda, Maryland, and has about 200 locations across the country. Michelle Trone, the daughter of Total Wine & More’s co-owner, Congressman David Trone (D-Md.), would be the owner of the Queens shop. 

In an interview with NBC New York, she said customers in Queens “deserve the opportunity” to shop at her store, which would be “much bigger and different” from the local shops. 

“I completely think that the local stores and my store will coexist together just the way they have in other places,” she said.

A Total Wine store opened in 2017 in Westbury, Long Island. License applications for another shop in New York, including in Hartsdale in Westchester County and Stony Brook on Long Island, were denied by the State Liquor Authority in recent years.

Nicole Brown