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Opposition increased to Total Wines’ proposed New York store

Opposition to US wine retailer Total Wines & More’s  proposed Queen’s store has cranked up a notch, after 36 state and federal officials, some of whom who had previously supported the project, allegedly withdrew their support.

According to local news outlets, around three dozen officials, including seven Senators and two Congresswomen, oppose the new store, including around a dozen officials who had previously supported Total Wine’s expansion into Queens, but would have now withdrawn their support, with some saying that they hadn’t realised the impact it would have on the local area.

New York State Senate deputy leader Michael Gianaris was reported as saying that the opening of a new Total Wine would be “a total disaster for small businesses in western Queens”.

“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,” he reportedly said.

Current liquor laws in New York state prohibits national liquor store chains from applying for a state license to open and operate stores in the states, but does allow entrepreneurs affiliated with national firms to apply for a single license for an individual store under a different corporate name. The license for the new 30,000 square-foot-store was made by MCT Fine Wine & Spirit, which is owned by Michelle Trone, the daughter of Total Wines & More’s founder, Maryland Congressman David Trone, to operate a warehouse on the site of a former Toys ‘R’ Us store. Tone argues that the move will create around 100 local jobs.

Total Wines & More, which was established by brothers Robert and David Trone in 1991 and now operates around 200 stores in 25 states, already has a warehouse in New York State, in Westbury on Long Island, which opened in 2017.

The case has attracted the attention of high-profile Democratic congresswoman Rep Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez. According to the New York Post, she wrote to the head of the state liquor authority voicing her concern about the possibly impact of the national drinks store coming to the vibrant local business in her home district.

In September the US wine specialist, which has stores nationwide, lost an appeal to expand its footprint in New York, after the state’s Supreme Court upheld the New York State Liquor Authority’s (SLA) refusal to grant a license for a proposed site in Westchester, saying it was “not appropriate for the region”. It was the second time the retailer had been refused permission to expand in the New York area, after the state liquor board refused its application to open a store in Stony Brook.

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