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Why doesn't Trader Joes' in NJ(at least ones in Bergen) don't carry alocoholic beverages?

Oh why, why??

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  1. bad grammar in the title line..but anyway...

    1. Corporations are limited to two retail distribution licenses in the state. They didn't pick Bergen County. Their choice.

      8 Replies
      1. re: Sdenred

        Yup. I think the one in Princeton sells alcohol..?

        1. re: ohmyyum

          Princeton and Westfield sell alcohol... and they are both over an hour from the Jersey Shore. We visit one or the other every few months and stock up on wine.

          1. re: Njchicaa

            I have family in Princeton but Westwood (in Bergen county) is definitely the closest for me when I'm home.
            I have wine and beer everyday in my store in NC, though!

        2. re: Sdenred

          crap, they should have picked Bergen county.

          1. re: Sdenred

            That's only partially true. Although the parent corporation may be Trader Joe's in this instance....each individual store is most likely a separate and individually registered corporation....for tax and liability issues. There are many National Chains in the state that have multiple locations and licenses. A single corporation or individual can only own two licenses.

            The most likely culprit is it may not fit their business model for their the stores without licenses....or there were none available to be purchased in the locations which have stores.

            1. re: fourunder

              Different corporations or entities with similar ownership will not bypass the 2 license limit.


              Unless a person held an interest in more than two retail licenses (except plenary retail transit licenses) prior
              to August 3, 1962, a person may not have any interest in more than a total of two retail licenses. There are
              some exceptions which permit the acquiring of more than two licenses if such licenses are retail
              consumption licenses and are used for a hotel of at least 50 sleeping rooms, a restaurant, a bowling facility
              of 20 lanes or more or at an international airport. Where this exception applies, except for hotels, no
              package goods can be sold. (N.J.S.A. 33:1-12.31 to 12.37.) (See “Local Control” and “Package Goods
              Sales by Retail Consumption Licensees.”)

              Being a member of a club which holds a Club License or holding less than 10 percent or less of the stock of
              a publicly-traded corporation which owns a retail license does not constitute an interest for the purpose of
              this two-license limitation.

              Taken from the NJ Alcoholic Beverage Control Handbook


              1. re: wizard2

                Different corporations or entities with similar ownership will not bypass the 2 license limit

                some exceptions...

                I worked for a National Chain restaurant back in the 80s-90's that had 10 stores in New Jersey...all corporate stores. There are currently many franchisees that have different territories within the state that also have multiple locations each, or private equity ownership more commonly known as Restaurant Groups that have multiple locations. Doherty Enterprises is on that comes to mind with 45+ licenses. Some Costco Wholesale Clubs have outside independent operators within their stores(Western Beverage?)

                1. re: fourunder

                  Restaurants are not limited to 2 liquor licenses.

          2. Honestly, you aren't missing much. There are good wine values around everywhere.

            2 Replies
            1. re: jmoryl

              That is true except if TJ carried wine and beer, it will be true one stop shopping for me.

              1. re: jmoryl

                There is a Costco-run liquor store in the Wayne, NJ location.

              2. thank the Puritans. why are NYC liquor sales so weird, why are Philly's? why are DC's? the laws are nonsense pretty much everywhere from the near South to New England, but they stay on the books...

                1. Costco suffers with the same law.

                  NJ restaurant licenses are a huge problem as well. Unlike NYC where basic requirements are ca. $ 10 k and no criminal record, NJ licenses are controlled and strictly limited by the state and municipal governments. The scuttlebutt is that in addition to the usual fees it can cost a mountain in bribes to local politicians to get one, if and when these become available (someone dies or is just so terrible at management that they go belly up anyway).

                  It is one of the reasons that the NJ dining scene is so depressing, since many restaurants break even on food and make all their profits on drink. It is difficult for BYOB places to compete. And, in lots of cases down the shore, if you have a license there is no reason to focus on decent food.

                  5 Replies
                  1. re: vikingkaj

                    NJ licenses are controlled and strictly limited by municipal governments. The scuttlebutt is that in addition to the usual fees it can cost a mountain in bribes to local politicians to get one,

                    1. NJ licenses are controlled by the State, not the municipalities. They are only limited because no new ones can be issued unless they fit the Exception rule as noted by wizard, or if the town's population increases by (10K?) . Municipalities do not issue the liquor license. They only collect the annual fees, handle administration for applications and enforce the statutes through their Police Department. The state is the only one who can approve a license sale or renewal.

                    2. Exactly which local politicians would these bribes be directed to?

                    1. re: fourunder

                      Actually the state determines the number of section 33 licenses (taverns, bars, restaurants) permitted in a municipality based upon one license for each 3,000 (not 10,000) residents (unless more licenses in the municipality were grandfathered in). And local municipalities have a fair amount of leeway in determining the sale and regulation of the licenses including sometimes running auctions if one becomes available. So municipalities are often involved in how licenses are allocated and administered under NJ law.

                      1. re: vikingkaj

                        You're correct about the 3K number ....and yes the municipality can oppose, suspend or revoke....but through notice of appeal, the State has the final say . I know of one business owner who had possibly the longest Pocket License in the state's history @ 15 years. Though some in the the municipality tried to oppose it, the State ultimately did not and it was offered for sale without a hitch or any participation from changing administrations over the course of those 15 years.

                        Municipalities only get involved in problem businesses, or when the license offered for sale is theirs due to new issue. Insolvency or Death issues are Federal and State auctions

                        The State ABC does not want to harm any license holder who was in good standing, because they know the value of the asset to the holder.

                        1. re: fourunder

                          At the end of the day more useless goverment regulation, Remember Father Goverment knows what is best for you.

                          Thanks.....my short rant is over lol

                          1. re: angelo04

                            What's incredible to me....is that there are some towns that force you to register as a BYOB and pay a fee of 1-1.5K for the privilege on top of the food license they require..... that to me is pure extortion.

                  2. By the way, Trader Joes is a chain privately owned by one of the Albrecht brothers and descendants, the same people who own Aldi. They are notoriously secretive about management decisions, but tend to be pretty controlling with regards to operations.

                    1. If there's a 2 license limit, how come Total Wine has about 12 locations throughout the state? They all seem to be corporate owned...

                      3 Replies
                      1. re: lemarais

                        Total Wine is not all corporately owned. They are paired off into little sub corporations so they are able to get the licenses. The same with Joe Canal's.

                        1. re: cwdonald

                          I have a frequent-buyer card (forget what they actually call it) at the Joe Canal's in Woodbridge, NJ... but when I bought some wine at a Joe Canal's in southern NJ, they would not accept my card -- which makes sense to me now.

                        2. re: lemarais

                          Love total wine minus their annoying salesmen who always recommend terrible wines to me.

                        3. So in other words, all a big company has to do to get around this is form little sub-corporations so that the licenses are in different names. But they still control all of them. Total advertises as if it were all one big company!

                          P.S. Ironically, TJ in Paramus built the store based on getting a license and putting in all their wine, but word is they got tired of all the red tape in NJ and Paramus and gave up. And soon after that, Stew Leonard's opened up right next door!

                          1 Reply
                          1. re: lemarais

                            The following article link should shed a little more light on the subject.


                          2. Too bad TJ didn't persist in getting a license when they opened in Paramus. Sales would probably have set chain records.