US liquor giant Total Wine loses appeal to open ‘mega-store’ in New York State

The state's Supreme Court upholds New York State Liquor Authority’s refusal to grant a license for the huge new store, citing public interest grounds.

One of America’s largest wine and liquor retailers has been denied approval to build a 21,000-sq.-foot megastore in Hartsdale, Westchester County.

Total Wine & More was hoping to expand its offering in New York State with the new site but has been dealt a blow after the state’s Supreme Court upheld the New York State Liquor Authority’s (SLA) refusal to grant a license.

The appeal, filed by White Plains Fine Wine & Spirits LLC and its sole owner Robert Trone, was rejected as the plans for the Hartsdale store were deemed ‘inappropriate for the region’.

White Plains was originally refused permission for the warehouse-style store in December last year and now the SLA has upheld that decision, explaining that a licence would not be granted on public interest grounds as the premises would not add anything new to the market, where around 200 local liquor stores already operate.

It also stated that liquor sales in the areas are in decline.

The Metropolitan Package Liquor Store Association, which represents small liquor stores across the lower New York area, commended the court’s decision.

‘There is no need for this mega-store to open there’, said its Executive Director Michael Correra. ‘We don’t need a $3 billion out-of-state company to suddenly come in and tell our liquor and wine stores how to promote New York products and better serve our customers.’

This is the second time Total Wines has been refused permission to expand its business in the New York area, after its application to open a store in Stony Brook was rejected by the state liquor board. It is fighting a further battle in the New York City borough of Queens where local residents and local drinks retailers are opposing another store opening.

High-profile Democratic congresswoman Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez – whose home district is Queens – has recently spoken out about the plans to open in College Point, Queens.

‘As a large retailer with ties to a billion dollar nationwide chain, Total Wine has access to resources and economies of scale with which smaller retailers could not compete,’ she said in a letter to state Liquor Authority Chairman Vincent Bradley, reports the New York Post.

‘Total Wine has a history of loss leader pricing — selling alcohol at or below cost in order to sell high-end products at a generous margin. 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,’ she continued.

Total Wine & More runs around 200 stores in 23 states across America and was established as Liquor World by brothers Robert and David Trone in 1991, becoming total Wine in 1998 following the acquisition of DC-based Total Beverage.


See also: When will the Supreme Court wine shipping ruling take effect?