Remembering Joe Coulombe, the San Diego Businessman Who Gave Us Trader Joe’s
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- CategoryMakers + Entrepreneurs
Trader Joe’s founder Joe Coulombe, a San Diego native and Stanford graduate, passed away at age 89. In 1967, he opened his first Trader Joe’s in Pasadena, targeting the “overeducated and underpaid.” His vision to provide high-quality, international products at good value worked in his favor.
According to Eater, “By the time Coulombe retired as chief executive in 1988, after having sold his interest in the company to German grocery retailer Aldi Nord in 1979, he had already put into place many of the distinct flourishes that separate Trader Joe’s from its competitors today: a focus on natural and organic goods; a private Trader Joe’s label for products bought directly from wholesalers; maritime themes in stores; a policy of discontinuity, with ever-changing inventory; and an expansive array of affordable wines, including the popular $1.99 Charles Shaw known as ‘two-buck Chuck.’”
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But its most famous guest may have been The Black Dahlia.