Seven months after socialist Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez helped tank New York’s deal with Amazon, the radical freshman is now reportedly plotting to prevent a popular nationwide alcohol retailer from opening in her district.
In a letter sent this Tuesday to State Liquor Authority Chairman Vincent Bradley, the congresswoman reportedly urged the official to deny Total Wine & More a license because its presence in her community would allegedly harm local small business owners.
“My district enjoys many of the benefits of a vibrant small business economy: job creation for and by community members, socio-economic mobility for immigrants and new Americans, and long-lasting relationships between proprietors and their customers,” she wrote, according to the New York Post, which obtained a copy of the letter.
She added that she’s “deeply concerned” by Total Wine & More moving into her community because it “has access to resources and economies of scale with which smaller retailers could not compete.”
“Total Wines has a history of loss leader pricing — selling alcohol at or below cost in order to sell high-end products at a generous margin,” she wrote. “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.”
The problem with AOC’s rhetoric is that it only represents one side. For those locals who do support the store’s launch, they’ve essentially been denied a voice by the congresswoman.
Entrepreneur behind planned Flushing Total Wine & More store gains support of Queens lawmakers and groups: https://t.co/Ht3WB7cHBw pic.twitter.com/kyPTP03Pef
— TimesLedger (@TimesLedger) September 13, 2019
According to the local news service QNS, “several Queens politicians and local organizations” — as well as at least 200 local residents — support the plans by Michelle Trone, the daughter of Total Wine & More’s owners, to open a store in Queens.
“Total Wine & More, based in Bethesda, Maryland, has about 200 locations across the country and is owned by Congressman David Trone (D-Md.) and his brother, but the Queens store would be owned by Michelle Trone, the daughter of the representative,” AM New York notes.
“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,” QNS added in its report.
Why all the support? Possibly because of what the store could do for the community.
“The 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 benefits (health care, 401K, partner benefits, short- and long-term disability),” QNS notes.
“They also plan to hire returning citizens, such as individuals who have a criminal record and are searching for jobs.”
“This 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 benefit to the Queens community,” Trone said to QNS.
In fairness to AOC, there is admittedly a large contingent of supporters on her side.
“We’re very pleased the congresswoman is getting involved. She’s got a big voice and she’s standing up for small family businesses,” Bobby Battipaglia, the owner of a local alcohol shop, said to the Post.
“Battipaglia said he met with a top AOC staffer to plead his case and urged the congresswoman to write the letter,” the Post notes.
Battipaglia isn’t alone. On Monday dozens of mom-and-pop business owners congregated in the Flushing neighborhood of Queens to protest Total’s potential arrival in their community.
They were joined by state Assemblyman Ron Kim.
“We’re all here collectively to say no to Total Wine & More liquor,” he said in a statement, according to QNS. “These folks live in our communities. Their kids go to school here.”
“These 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. This 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 our communities.”
“It would be a complete devastation for 350 wine and liquor stores in Queens. Total uses large profits from its stores in other markets so they can sell it for a low cost,” Michael Correra, the executive director of the Metropolitan Package Store Association, added.
“This is purposeful, so they can rip away market share and destroy the local wine and liquor merchants in their path. If approved, market dominance and market devastation will follow.”
Opponents of the store appear to believe that Total Wine & More’s introduction into their community will destroy their businesses. Trone disagrees with that mindset.
“It’s a different business model,” she said to QNS. “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.”
“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 uses.”
“I believe the community in Queens needs both of these types of stores,” she added. “There is also, historically, looking at other Total Wines before and after they open, the number of stores around it do not go out of business. People aren’t going to drive further to buy one bottle of Chardonnay, but they’ll probably drive further away for five cases.”
It seems like none of these points were noted or even considered by AOC. Just as she did in the case of Amazon, it appears that she’s again chosen to rush to judgment and stick her nose where it’s potentially unwelcome. And just like last time, there’s a chance it could cost her “bigly.”
A new poll shows @AOC‘s constituents wanted Amazon in their district, proving once again she cares more about representing the professional, progressive left than her own constituents. https://t.co/kfmE9RRFO1
— New York GOP (@NewYorkGOP) April 10, 2019
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