2006_03_gristedes.jpgIf you can't get New Yorkers to buy your expensive cigarettes, then why not sue a competitor? The supermarket chain Gristede's is suing Indian tribes for selling discounted cigarettes illegally. Gristede's seems to feel that the Indian nations, Unkechaug Poospatuck Tribe of Mastic and the Shinnecock Indian Nation in Southampton, are able to undercut other retailers because they are able to sell cigarettes without the $3 tax to Indian customers - and may sell at the same prices to non-Indian buyers. Gristede's also claims that the state hasn't been regulating the law, requiring reservations to tax non-Indian buyers carefully enough and that they are losing millions of dollars in revenue. At $3 savings a pop, Gothamist can see how a black market would emerge, and things are bound to get worse if Mayor Bloomberg gets another 50-cent tax added to cigarettes. And then there's the whole thing about the city going after residents who purchased cigarettes online without paying taxes. Of course, Indian tribal leaders think the lawsuit is frivolous and without grounds.

And it must be tough times for Gristede's, which first opened in 1888, to deal with Johnny Come Latelies like Whole Foods and Trader Joe's.