New York City’s only Trader Joe’s Wine Store has closed

Two Buck Chuck is saying “goodbye” to all that.

Melissa Kravitz Hoeffner
Trader Joe's
Photograph: Courtesy CC/Flickr/Ianqui Doodle

A major Manhattan landmark has closed up shop.

Trader Joe’s Wine Shop, located at 138 E 14th St. just below Union Square, permanently shut its doors on Thursday, August 11, marking the end of an era for budget booze shoppers. The next door Trader Joe’s grocery store is still very much open for business, with the typical store-long line of NYU students, summer interns and commuters grabbing dark chocolate peanut butter cups and bags of frozen cauliflower gnocchi while they multitask crossing off their shopping lists while inching closer to the very distant registers.

“We have been operating our small Wine Shop in the Union Square neighborhood for over 15 years, and we thank you for all the business and support throughout the years,” reads a printed sign in the window of the now-shuttered shop. Trader Joe’s website confirms that this location is indeed permanently closed leaving yet another vacant storefront in Manhattan.

Naturally, New Yorkers are devastated at the unpredictable loss—and right before the weekend!

“Falling to my knees at the now out of business 14th st trader joe’s wine store,” someone tweeted. Many more shared their heartbreak on social media, with a devastating memorial thread currently being updated on Reddit.

But not all is lost: the message also states that the shop is exploring new locations to “optimize the potential of our one and only license to sell wine in New York… We look forward to sharing our plans to offer an even better wine shop experience to our New York customers as soon as they are finalized.” All staff members who lost their positions at the wine shop are being paid for their scheduled shifts through August 28 and will be offered opportunities to transfer to other New York City Trader Joe’s locations.

No word on where the wine inventory will transfer, but likely not to your favorite neighborhood Trader Joe’s. New York State law only allows one wine license per entity, meaning that grocery chains can only sell wine in one of their physical locations. Trader Joe’s capitalized on this by not using coveted shelf real estate to sell Two Buck Chuck, but rather utilize their one and only license to dedicate an entire shop to wine. This rule applies to all chain stores in the city, which is why only the Whole Foods on the Upper West Side (808 Columbus Ave.) sells wine (beer and alcoholic beverages under 6% ABV are allowed at other stores, as long as it’s less than 25% of the inventory).

Shoppers had no advance notice of Trader Joe’s Wine Shop’s closure, and some are speculating that the lease was up. Rent increases are hitting hard, which is all the more reason many in the neighborhood may be craving some cheap wine. Luckily, the East Village is far from a booze desert, with shops like Convive, Wines on First, East Village Wine & Spirits, plus many more, offering affordable bottles just blocks from Union Square. Pour one out for Two Buck Chuck tonight (but like, not too much, inflation is real!).

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