Posted by: Debbie Abrams Kaplan | November 17, 2009

Trader Joe’s and the Liquor License

One reason we chose our town was because there’s a Trader Joe’s in it. People here are surprised we’ve heard of Trader Joe’s. As if it wasn’t started in CALIFORNIA. As if we didn’t have two in close driving distance of our old house, with a third being built.

As luck would have it, this Trader Joe’s also sells wine and beer. For anyone living outside the East Coast, that’s a no-brainer. Of course TJ’s sells wine and beer. Two-buck Chuck anyone? But back here, grocery stores don’t sell liquor. Liquor stores sell liquor (or state-run package stores in  Pennsylvania).

No, we have to go to special liquor stores, which make us feel like alcoholics.

We even have to go to liquor stores to buy Manischewitz. Yes, Manischewitz. I have to drag my kids into a liquor store to buy a bottle of low-alcohol content nasty-tasting ritual wine.

So we hit the jackpot with this Trader Joe’s, because even though it doesn’t sell Manischewitz, it sells wine. Which makes it the East Coast’s most popular Trader Joe’s. Our checker told us that shoppers come from New York and Pennsylvania to shop here because its liquor license. 

So next time you go to Trader Joe’s, and you’re buying wine (or even liquor!), think of us.


  1. I am jealous. The nearest Trader Joe’s to me is 40 minutes away and I still haven’t gone. But friends have brought me TJ food as gifts and I love it.


  2. You are under-representing the confusion that is alcohol in PA: “state stores” sell wine and liquor. “Beer marts” sell beer, in cases only. You can get six-packs at some take-out restaurants, and now also at Wegmans.

    Our closest TJs is one hour away, but right next to Michael’s soon-to-be-former workplace. We stock up.

    • Wow – Audrey – thanks for clearing that up! When I went to school in Philly, I had to rely on others to buy alcohol at stores for me (my sister needed her duplicate driver’s license back after getting her wallet stolen). Fortunately I could buy my wine coolers at the pizza place.

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