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Trader Joe’s opens new ‘Pronto’ concept in former wine store

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Trader Joe’s has reopened its Trader Joe’s Wine Shop in Manhattan as a grab-and-go food store named Trader Joe’s Pronto.

The former wine store is next door to a traditional Trader Joe’s — wine sales are generally not permitted in New York supermarkets — and has been the subject of an ongoing dispute with the United Food and Commercial Workers Union. The union alleges that the wine store closed after employees sought to organize, and that the Pronto opening is part of an effort to prevent the reopening of the wine store.

“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,” the UFCW’s NYC Trader Joe’s Wine Shop Organizing Committee said in a statement. “We are disappointed, but not surprised, to learn that the space has been filled before reopening our shop.”

In 2022, employees of the Trader Joe’s Wine Shop filed an Unfair Labor Practices charge with the National Labor Relations Board, alleging that the company closed the store to retaliate against workers seeking to unionize the location, which had been open for about 15 years. The wine store was one of a handful of Trader Joe’s retail locations around the country where workers have been seeking union representation.

In January, the NLRB filed a complaint against Trader Joe’s seeking to force the company to reopen the wine store and compensate the employees who lost their jobs. According to local reports, Trader Joe’s is seeking to reopen the wine store at a different location. A hearing on the matter is set to begin on May 7.

“Trader Joe’s Pronto is a one-of-a-kind extension of our store in Union Square,” said Nakia Rohde, a spokesperson for Trader Joe’s, in a statement to Supermarket News. “This additional space allows us to carry more of the products our customers in this neighborhood purchase daily. We do not have plans to open additional Trader Joe’s Pronto markets in New York or elsewhere in the country.”

Rohde said all employees of the former wine store were paid for their scheduled hours and offered positions in another Trader Joe’s location of their choice. She also said the company is looking for another location for a wine store in New York where it can “maximize its wine sales potential.” New York law currently only allows the company to have a single wine license in the state, she said.

A visit to the store on Wednesday revealed that the Pronto store, which is in New York City’s Greenwich Village area, near Union Square and New York University, is sparsely merchandised with a limited assortment of sharply priced grab-and-go salads, sandwiches, and wraps, as well as a small produce selection, an assortment of packaged snacks, and a few refrigerated items such as yogurt and hummus.

In the span of about 20 minutes, several customers were redirected to the traditional Trader Joe’s supermarket next door when they discovered that Pronto did not carry a full grocery offering.

Reporting in CSP, a Supermarket News sister publication covering the convenience store industry, lists the Pronto store as measuring 2,800 square feet, vs. about 15,000 square feet for a typical Trader Joe’s.

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