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That place is one of only two stores in the US that sell those things.
That place is one of the only two stores in the US that sell those things.

Since the context is clear and the stores are specified, it sounds to me the sentence with or without the article doesn't make much of a difference. Is the article optional in this case? Does it make a difference in meaning?

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    To my BrE ears there is no difference. If I were writing it, I would not use the definite article. You could actually lose the 'only' and still retain the meaning but possibly lacking the wow factor of there only being two stores in the whole of the US where you can buy them (whatever they are).
    – JeremyC
    Commented Sep 24, 2018 at 21:41
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    I agree with Jeremy. Editors do not like stuff that is not necessary. Bear in mind that had their been a previous discussion, their could be justification for overkill.
    – Lambie
    Commented Sep 24, 2018 at 21:52
  • @JeremyC -- Your comment would make a good answer.
    – Jasper
    Commented Sep 25, 2018 at 0:10
  • @JeremyC -- The word "only" makes another difference, as well. "There are two stores" is ambiguous. It could mean either "There are at least two stores", or "There are only two stores".
    – Jasper
    Commented Sep 25, 2018 at 0:13
  • @Jasper but it is not ambiguous if we have '...is one of two stores in the US...'. That tells us that there are only two.'
    – JeremyC
    Commented Sep 25, 2018 at 7:25

2 Answers 2

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There are several different ways you can say it

That place is one of only two stores in the US that sell those things.
That place is one of two stores in the US that sell those things.
That place is one of the two stores in the US that sell those things.

Only two stores in the US sell those things, that place is one of them

"Only" may be used for emphasis

one of only a handful
one of only two stores

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Both of the sentences convey the same information, but using article "the" in this situation is preferred since it emphasizes on the uniqueness of the store in the country.

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