Sorry W(h)iners, Some of You May be Disappointed by Trader Joe’s

Cash registers are ready to ring you up at the new Trader Joe’s. Photo by Victor Nicolescu.

With Trader Joe’s just weeks away from opening its latest store on Columbus Avenue between 92nd and 93rd Streets, several readers have reached out to ask the big question: will it have its famous cheap wine?

A store rep told us that it will have beer, but as of now…no wine is expected.

Buy some wine at a local store and leave your whining in the comments!

Reporting by Noah Phillips.

FOOD, OPEN/CLOSED | 60 comments | permalink
    1. Upper Best Side says:

      UWSers, let this be a lesson to all of us who shop at stores like Trader Joes:

      They will take over. And then they will screw us. No wine? What’s next? No Kombucha? No avocado face scrub?! NO SIX PACKS OF UDI’S GLUTEN FREE BAGELS?

      I say we take a stand and SUPPORT OUR LOCAL NEIGHBORHOOD WHOLE FOODS. Let’s stand up for the little guy for once.

      • peter says:

        its NYState licensing thats the problem, I believe TJ can only get one booze store location in NYS.

      • Mary says:

        Not related to Trader Joe’s, but the Rite Aid at 110th and Broadway is going out of business! I wonder what that means. Another luxury tower in the works for that corner?

        • wombatnyc says:

          I love Rite-Aide . My favourite of the large chains . The prices are great and the randomness of the products selections are fun. I “cantStanza” the Duane Reade’s and CVS’s – They are overpriced and a blight on the neighbourhoods

          • Liza says:


            You fAre absolutely right. Other chains pretend to be discount chains but have not been so for years.

          • Amy Goldin says:

            interesting. I don’t like Rite Aid as much as Duane Reade. I guess it depends on which you go to. I find the lines longer and the employees less helpful. But what are you going to do?

      • geoff says:

        apt comment. in very short order comments will slide from gushing support for trader joe’s to gushing antagonism for comparable corporate giants, urging UWSers to shop small businesses, decrying their failure when they close. trader joe’s is one of the bad behemoths.

      • Irena says:

        Whole Foods…the “little guy” ? Perhaps you were being sarcastic and I missed it.

        Whole Foods, owned by Amazon…the company that we really do have to worry about taking over every aspect of products and services.

        In my corner of UWS there isn’t even an independent supermarket/food store to support. Thank goodness for Peapod delivery. It isn’t perfect (inventory varies dramatically) but at least it takes coupons and it does have decent sales. And thank goodness for Fairway and Zabars.

        When I visit friends in the burbs, it’s like fantasy land shopping in their huge supermarkets with products I’ve never seen in NYC.

        • Camille says:

          I’m not sure how you could have missed the sarcasm in the “little guy… Whole Foods” comment. I don’t thing there was an unsarcastic word anywhere in that comment!

        • agac says:

          I think they mean the Uptown Whole Foods, on Broadway.

        • Leigh says:

          Mani’s Marketplace on 94th and Columbus or Zingone’s on 83rd and Columbus are family run groceries and have everything you could ever need in a (thank goodness) unpretentious, curated environment! Support them!

      • Filatura says:

        😀 Today was on its way to being a pretty bad day, but your comment fixed it! Thanks for the laugh.

        • Filatura says:

          My comment, above, was meant for Upper Best Side; somehow it got dropped down on the list.
          Sarcasm at its best!

      • Margaret says:


    2. nycityny says:

      It’s not Trader Joe’s – it’s New York State’s arcane liquor laws. When I go to my native Los Angeles I can buy wine and hard liquor at Trader Joe’s, CVS, Rite Aid, 7-11 or any grocery store. New York needs to join the 20th Century. Then it can proceed to the 21st.

    3. Paul RL says:

      I’m going to take this opportunity to plug Roma Wines & Liquors on Amsterdam Ave between 95th & 96th. They opened up about a year ago. Nice selection and friendly staff. And no, I don’t work there, but I do like to drink. A lot. L’Chaim!

      • Bill says:

        Roma was on the east side of Amsterdam previously and a great place. Hope they are successful.

      • jmamory says:

        Another plug for Roma. I shopped there at their old location and was overjoyed to see them open again. Nice people, good stock, fair prices.

      • David says:

        I second that Paul! Create place and the staff are awesome.

      • Independent says:

        Although I would be surprised if there were any relation, I would like to note that one of the sponsors of what was perhaps the longest running old-time radio show, SUSPENSE!, was a Roma Wines.

        And now, Roma Wines brings you Miss Ida Lupino in Summer Night— a tale well-calculated to keep you in SUSPENSE!

        Keep your imbibing in check, Paul. We wouldn’t want you to do yourself in.

        (Perhaps you could try old time radio as a partial substitute for booze. If you can bring yourself to tune-in to WBAI, the infamous local Pacifica outlet at 99.5 on the FM dial– the station that’s been on the brink of collapse for at least twenty years now– you can hear The Golden Age of Radio, hosted by Max Schmid, Sundays from 7-9 PM.)

        • Bill says:

          @Independent – If you’re really interested in old-time radio, allow me to recommend WNAR, coming to you online 24/7 from beautiful downtown Lansdale, PA … all oldies all the time.

          • Independent says:

            Thank you, Bill. Looks promising.

            Assuming WNAR’s transmitter setup is of decent quality, I’d expect the AM signal to reach NY pretty strongly on a clear night with little wind.

            I wonder if there are any senior WSR readers who recall the Roma Wines in-question from back in the day.

            Getting back to the topic of neighborhood wine purveyors, I recall a small shop on Broadway somewhere between, what I recall as 100th and 102nd streets that was operational at least as late as the early-to-mid 1980’s.

    4. R says:

      There is an amazing wine store down the street on 96th and Columbus called “Columbus Wines”. They have an amazing selection and the best staff! They’re extremely knowledgeable.

      • Johnny UWS says:

        Nice wine store- high priced (I know we live on the UWS no bargains & if your broke ya gotta move) browsed through recently and was surprised to see only a handful of wines around or under $10.00, they did have good selection $15.00-$25.00 range and some good wines too just way above my pay grade

    5. A.Z says:

      As far as I know the law in NYC only allows one wine store per grocery chain. That’s why the only one for Trader Joe is downtown and the only one for Wholefoods is Columbus Av uptown

    6. Peter Brandt says:

      there’s alway TJ on East 14th St by NYU with wine & groceries (2 different store side by side).

      • B.B. says:

        IIRC NYS law mandates that wine store and supermarket/grocery have separate entrances.

        Eli’s Wines on the UES (Third Avenue) has same set up; the wine store is carved out of main space but is a separate “store within a store” including own entrance.

    7. May says:

      On their website, on the map:
      TJ’s New York
      93rd & Columbus (545)

      Alcohol: Beer, Wine, Spirits

    8. West88 says:

      There is an antiquated NY law that only allows one liquor store to operate under the same name, hence why the 14th Wine Shop is the only one (TJ can’t sell the wine in-store as it must be a separate shop).

    9. Mark Moore says:

      I find Trader Joe’s to almost always be disappointing. But once it opens a block away I might become better at it.

    10. Harriet F. says:

      Will someone please confirm the exact law for me. It is my understanding that NYC law prohibits any one company from owning more than one liquor store in New York City. This was enacted shortly after the end of Prohibition to keep the Mafia from taking over the new booze industry. So…don’t blame Trader Joe’s. Support your local mom & pop liquor store. TJ’s put a liquor store at 14th St and that’s the only one they get to have in NYC.

    11. stu says:

      I think TJ is permitted to only sell wine at one NYC location. Thats already taken.

    12. jezbel says:

      I used to live in Scottsdale, where there was a Trader Joes every few miles. They carried Charles Shaw wines, which because of its price was known as 2 buck chuck. When they first started selling it everyone was talking about it and all the varieties and that it was such a bargain. But I’ve got to tell you it was total swill. I tried it a couple of times just to make sure it wasn’t just one bad bottle. The stuff was vile. I poured both bottles down the drain. Unless they can do better than that here – I’d just as soon get my wine at the liquor store. Or even at Fresh Direct.

    13. UWSHebrew says:

      Hey, Paulie! Let me have some wine. Paulie! More wine…

    14. Mootown says:

      We already HAVE a wine store directly across the street, next door to Ivan Pharmacy, yuppie idiots.

    15. Brandon says:

      If every TJs location was allowed to sell wine the WSR and it’s readers would moan about the closings of their favorite small wine shops. You can’t have it both ways.

      • Paul on West 67th says:

        Another part of the law states that a store selling wine/liquor cannot sell food, which is why you can’t buy your gin AND your tonic in the same shop. This is why the Trader Joe’s wine shop on 14th operates as a separate store.

        Plus they have to have a street entrance directly into the store, which is also why the Whole Foods at Columbus Circle had to close their wine shop.

        From the Times 5/24/05:

        Citing state law that requires wine and liquor stores to have a separate entrance at street level and prohibits them from selling food, the Division of Alcoholic Beverage Control fined Whole Foods $5,000 on April 7 and gave it 30 days to sell off its stock. Whole Foods closed the shop on May 9 and surrendered its liquor license to the agency.

    16. upperwestsidewally says:

      New York State laws prohibit any one entity (person, company) from owning more than one (1) liquor/wine store. Trader Joe’s on 14th Street is the only TJ in the entire State of NY selling wine.
      Whole Foods on Columbus/99th is the only WF store selling wine.
      It is a strange industry….

    17. Miriam says:

      Forget Trader Joe wine. Can anyone confirm the Rite Aid is closing rumor? I get everything household there. Not the best news with which to start my day. :/ I think I’ll have some wine with my whine.

    18. Bz says:

      My local wine store has good deals and a good selection. Bin 70 on WEA and 70 st

    19. David Morris says:

      Yes. Support local stores. Shop at the Associated on 97th and Amsterdam. Or Manny’s. Common sense, loyalty, and some progressive values.

    20. Harry M. says:

      As others have mentioned, New York State prohibits any single operator to have more than one liquor store. Blame our wonderful legislature, considered by most to be the most dysfunctional in America. Will remain so until we establish term limits.

    21. Rosemary says:

      I think ir’s an NYC ruling that chain stores can only sell wine at one location and TJ’s on 14th St I’d that location

    22. pooky says:

      Best wine store on UWS is Gotham Liquors B’way & 94th. Best prices, best selections.

      • Whino McWine says:

        Except they carry mostly big brands. I’ll keep buying my wine from West Side Wine and Amsterdam Wine Co.

    23. Re: Whole Foods Owned By Amazon- Amazon has been successful by offering low prices and outstanding customer service. That kind of behavior is an affront to any decent person. How long will we tolerate it?? (Loll)

    24. Warren Handelman says:

      It’s really not their fault. It’s an old New York State law that one entity can only have one retail wine/liquor license and one location in New York State. It’s basically still in place by pressure of the independent wine/liquor store owners association. That’s why no chain liquor stores in NY.

    25. Marge says:

      For the cheap stuff, you’ll have to stick with Whole Foods, Three Wishes line at $2.99/bottle.

    26. carol mills says:

      whole foods has great wine for 3 dollars

    27. Doug Garr says:

      If only Gristedes would go under. TJs store brands are terrific value. Not great on produce. So Beacon for wine and Fairway for perishables and TJs for everything else.

    28. Margaret says:

      I like it that we can’t buy wine in every supermarket. When I’m in LA I get so confused. I forget to buy chicken and come home with a cartload of Chardonnay.

      Let me recommend Martin Bros at Broadway and 107 for you Upper upper west siders. Beats Rite-Aid any day.

    29. RK says:

      Anyone know anything about NY laws about companies opening more than one liquor store? I suspect that has something to do with this but I can’t find any information about it anywhere.


    30. D Schultz says:

      Grocery stores (including Whole Foods, Trader Joe’s) are by NYS law (thank the retail liquor store owners association) one retail liquor store is permitted per chain; wine, hard liquor, etc., can be sold in only one store and that store cannot on the premises where food is sold. Thus, Whole Foods’ wine shop is in a separate location on Columbus, and Trader Joe’s location is on 14th St. I