Joe Coulombe, Founder of Trader Joe’s, a beloved national grocery chain, has died after a long illness.
Joe died at his home in Pasadena, CA.
Born in 1930, in the middle of the depression, and raised on an avocado ranch nearby San Diego, CA. He served in the Air Force and got a B.A. in economics and an MBA from Stanford. No slouch.
He worked at Rexall Drugs in 1958, creating a group of convenience stores. Eventually Coulombe bought the stores and ran them himself.
Coulombe jumped into the market business at the same time 7-Eleven was soaring, and he decided to take a different approach.
That became Trader Joe’s.
He opened his first store in Pasadena and decided to decorate it with a nautical decor influenced by a book called “White Shadows in the South Seas.”
He was also liked the Jungle Cruise ride at Disneyland. Employees at the store wear Hawaiian shirts. They were called captain and first mates.
The concept of the store — drawing customers with sophisticated taste on a budget. The prices were reasonable and sometimes even discount.
Joe sold the chain in 1979 to a German grocery retailer Aldi Nord and retired from the company 9 years later.