4 THE QUEENS COURIER • SEPTEMBER 19, 2019 FOR BREAKING NEWS VISIT WWW.QNS.COM
Mom-and-pop shops rally against Total Wine & More in College Point
BY CARLOTTA MOHAMED
Small mom-and-pop business merchants—
many of whom who are immigrant
families — across Queens are coming
together to take on mega wine and
liquor retail, Total Wine & More.
Business merchants and members
of the nonprofi t Metropolitan Package
Store Association (MetroPSA) joined
state Assemblyman Ron Kim in Flushing
Monday chanting “No to Total” urging
local legislators and the New York State
Liquor Authority (SLA) to reject the proposed
30,000-square-foot liquor store at
30-02 Whitestone Expy., the former site
of Toys ‘R’ Us, in College Point.
“We’re all here collectively to say no to
Total Wine & More liquor,” said Kim, who
rescinded his support for the store aft er
learning it was a part of a larger corporation.
“Th ese folks live in our communities.
Th eir kids go to school here. Th ese are our
neighbors, our small business owners and
we have to protect them, especially now
when everything we’re doing is to reward
the biggest, baddest corporations in the
entire world. Th is is one of the very few
places where we’re able to protect local
jobs … our liquor industry and small
business owners are the heart and soul in
Th e Business merchants, gathered at the
Sheraton LaGuardia East Hotel at 135-20
39th Ave., say the massive 200 national
chain liquor store will threaten the viability
of hundreds of long-established local
Flushing State Assemblyman Ron Kim speaks at the rally opposing the opening of Total Wine & More
in College Point.
businesses throughout Queens, Bronx,
Brooklyn, Manhattan and Long Island.
“It would be a complete devastation for
350 wine and liquor stores in Queens. Total
Wine & More uses large profi ts from its
stores in other markets so they can sell
it for a low cost,” said Michael Correra,
executive director of MetroPSA, which
represents family-owned and independent
beverage retailers. “Th is is purposeful, so
they can rip away market share and destroy
the local wine and liquor merchants in
their path. If approved, market dominance
Photo by Carlotta Mohamed/QNS
and market devastation will follow.”
Th omas Baff er, the executive director of
UFCW Local 2D, a union that represents
the sales representatives that work with
the merchants, expressed concerns about
the wine and liquor store.
“We’re in this together as partners.
Why? Because Total Wine is a monopoly.
Th ey have the stores, manpower and dollars
to do it,” Baff er said. “My sales people
got murdered around Westbury because
of the decline in businesses. “We gotta
keep Total Wine out of New York. Th ey
don’t belong here.”
Total Wine & More, based in Maryland,
owns nearly 200 stores in 23 states nationwide
with a $3 billion revenue, according
to MetroPSA. Two years ago, Total Wine
& More opened in Westbury, Long Island,
where local businesses there reported a
revenue hit of more than 30 percent.
Some even closed. Aft er failing to obtain
a liquor license in Westchester County,
the chain fi led a lawsuit against the NYS
Michelle Trone, the daughter of Total
Wine & More’s co-owner, Congressman
David Trone of Maryland, would be the
owner of the College Point shop.
According to Trone, the sole owner
of MCT New York Fine Wines & Spirits
LLC, Total Wine & More will be operated
separately from the retail chain, which
would make it diff erent from other stores
and local shops.
In an interview with the Queens
Courier, Trone said she believes “the community
in Queens needs both types of
stores,” and they can co-exist together.
However, the business merchants who
have banded together and hired a lawyer,
believe otherwise and say the entrepreneur
isn’t welcomed and doesn’t belong in
New York City.
“We are so worried once this comes in,
that’s it for us. Bye mom-and-pop, hello
Walmart of liquor,” said Amy Tang, of
Union Street Wine & Liquor in Flushing.
“She claims she loves Queens, the community,
the diversity. She doesn’t know us.
C’mon, you’re from Washington, D.C. We
the business owners know each other.”
Entrepreneur behind Total Wine & More store gains support of Queens lawmakers
BY CARLOTTA MOHAMED
Business owner and entrepreneur
Michelle Trone, who is seeking to open
a Total Wine & More store in Flushing,
is committed to partnering with the local
community while coinciding with momand
Trone, 31, is the sole owner of MCT
New York Fine Wines & Spirits LLC, who
has applied for a wine and liquor license at
30-02 Whitestone Expressway, the former
site of Toys ‘R’ Us that has been vacant for
almost two years.
“Th is will be my fi rst foray into owning
my own business,” Trone said. “I’ve
spent a lot of time in New York for work
and for fun and Queens always struck me
as a great neighborhood, very diverse,
growing and an interesting place, where
I thought having a store with so many
options could really add to what’s available.
Th ere’s nothing like it in Queens.”
MCT New York Fine Wines & Spirits
LLC is a separate entity from all other
stores that operate under the trade name
Total Wine & More — the fi rst and only
license that Trone seeks to hold. While
Trone has received a generous amount of
support for the store opening in Queens,
which will be solely operated by her under
the name Total Wine & More, she is
also facing opposition from local business
owners who fear losing their store, jobs
However, Trone believes they can co-exist
together, she said.
“It’s a diff erent business model. My store
will be the kind of place where customers
will come three to six times a year to stock
up for an occasion, parties, holidays or
an event,” Trone said. “For a local Friday
night, where they just want to pick up a
bottle of wine, they’ll still go to their local
mom-and-pop. Whenever a Whole Foods
or grocery opens up, the local bodega
doesn’t go out of business; they’re for different
Trone plans to open two stores side
by side — one licensed to sell wine and
spirits (9,000-plus and 4,500-plus liquor
items) and the other to sell beer and New
York state food products (1,400-plus New
York state wines, 350-plus New York state
spirits and 50-plus New York state ciders)
— to off er customers a convenient experience.
“We’ll have New York cheeses, apples,
delis and also convenient accessories such
as a wine opener and napkins,” Trone said.
“Most liquor stores in Queens are just selling
liquor and wine, you gotta go somewhere
else for your beer, or if you’re getting
beer they don’t have a license to sell
liquor … I wanted to have both of those
in one place for customers.”
Th e store will be equipped with wi-fi ,
wine/spirits educational content on fl at
screens, and wide aisles. Additionally,
there will be 461 parking spots, including
280 directly in front of the store. Th ere
will be a focus on exceptional customer
service and education to help consumers
make decision and plan their dinners
Trone is already planning to donate a
portion of the store’s proceeds from opening
week to a local nonprofi t. She is committed
to working closely with community
and business leaders to support local
causes and charitable eff orts.
Th e wine and spirits store is expected to
bring jobs to Queens with approximately
175 team members, where 75 percent will
be full-time, earning high wages plus full
benefi ts (health care, 401K, partner benefi
ts, short- and long-term disability) Trone
said. Th ey also plan to hire returning citizens,
such as individuals who have a criminal
record and are searching for jobs.
With the support of several Queens
politicians and local organizations and
receiving more than 200 signatures from
individuals, Trone is hopeful that the
liquor license will be approved to open the
wine and spirits store in Flushing.
“I’ve always wanted to open up my own
store, it’s something I’ve thought about for
a long time,” Trone said. “Th is will give the
people of Queens something they don’t
currently have from the assortment, education,
selection, and the fact that I will be
partnering with the community through
charitable organizations. I think overall,
it will be a benefi t to the Queens community.”
Photo via Google Maps
The proposed location for Total Wine & More, located at 30-02 Whitestone Exwy.