Trader Joe’s Opens Grab-and-Go Shop in NYC

Pronto location replaces grocer’s wine shop in Union Square neighborhood amid backlash from labor union
Emily Crowe, Progressive Grocer
Trader Joe's Wine Shop
The Trader Joe's Wine Shop in New York City's Union Square has been converted to the first and only Trader Joe's Pronto location.

Following much speculation as to whether it would reopen, it has now been revealed that the Trader Joe’s Wine Shop in New York City’s Union Square has been converted to a grab-and-go market dubbed Pronto. 

A spokesperson told EV Grieve that Trader Joe's Pronto is a one-of-a-kind extension of its store in Union Square that allows the grocer to carry more of the products its customers in the neighborhood purchase daily, such as grab-and-go meals. The spokesperson also confirmed that the company does not have plans to open additional Trader Joe's Pronto markets in New York or elsewhere in the country.

The Trader Joe’s Wine Shop that previously occupied the space permanently closed in 2022 after 15 years in business. Wine shop associates were paid for their scheduled shifts for about two weeks and had the opportunity to transfer to another New York City Trader Joe’s location.

“We have been operating our small Wine Shop in the Union Square neighborhood for over 15 years, and we thank you for your business and support throughout the years,” a letter posted to the door noted. “It is now time for us to explore another location that will allow us to optimize the potential of our one and only license to sell wine in the state of New York.”

At the time, the United Food and Commercial Workers International Union (UFCW), which represents 1.2 million workers in grocery stores, meatpacking plants and other industries across North America, alleged that the wine shop closing was in response to employees’ organizing efforts there. The union accused Trader Joe’s of “engaging in an illegal union-busting technique that has been utilized by other national corporations facing organizing campaigns of their own, like Starbucks and Amazon.” 

In January, the National Labor Relations Board (NLRB) filed a complaint against Trader Joe’s and a notice of hearing, demanding that the company reopen the wine shop and reimburse workers for lost wages. With this week’s Pronto opening, the UFCW has again voiced its concerns. 

“Trader Joe’s decision to open a new store in place of its former wine shop, after displacing its former staff without warning, is a giant slap in the face,” said the NYC Trader Joe’s Wine Shop Organizing Committee in a statement. “We are disappointed, but not surprised, to learn that the space has been filled before reopening our shop. While management claims to be searching for a new location to move its successful wine store, they’ve been content to let its former location lay empty for almost two years as an alleged cost-saving measure.”

Continued the organizing committee: “We believe Trader Joe's is doing everything in its power to prevent a profitable unionized shop from reopening. We refuse to let Trader Joe's continue to get away with their egregious and illegal union-busting tactics.”

With more than 500 stores in 40-plus states, Trader Joe’s is No. 27 on The PG 100, Progressive Grocer’s 2023 list of the top food and consumables retailers in North America. PG also named the company one of its Retailers of the Century.

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