Joe Coulombe envisioned a new technology of young grocery consumers emerging in the 1960s, a single that preferred healthier, delicious, significant-top quality food they couldn’t find in most supermarkets and couldn’t afford to purchase in the number of substantial-finish connoisseur stores.
So he discovered a new way to deliver every thing from a then-exotic snack food named granola to the California-produced wines that for taste in comparison with something from France. And he designed buying for them nearly as a great deal enjoyment as sailing the higher seas when he produced Trader Joe’s, a quirky small grocery keep crammed with nautical themes and staffed not by administrators and clerks but by “captains and mates.”
From the time he opened his initially retail store in Pasadena, California, in 1967 until his loss of life Friday at age 89, Coulombe viewed his namesake enterprise increase from a cult favorite of educated but underpaid younger people — and a couple of hippies — to a retail big with additional than 500 stores in more than 40 states.
A giant sure, but one particular that throughout much more than half a century has under no circumstances missing its status for welcoming assistance from workforce decked out in goofy Hawaiian shirts, a publication that appears to be like like it was published in the 1890s, and rows and rows of higher-quality, moderately priced wholesome meals and great wine, even if you from time to time just can’t at any time again locate precisely the identical point.
“He desired to make sure regardless of what was sold in our keep was of excellent price,” explained Coulombe’s son, also named Joe, who included that his father died pursuing a lengthy ailment. “He often did lots of flavor assessments. My sisters and I recall him bringing house all varieties of things for us to check out. At his workplaces he had nearly day by day tastings of new products and solutions. Often the purpose was to present superior foods and superior worth to people today.”
He realized that by buying directly from wholesalers and slicing out the middleman, in many instances slapping the title Trader Joe’s on a bag of nuts, path combine, organic dried mango, honey-oat cereal or Angus beef chili. He named quite a few merchandise after his daughters Charlotte and Madeleine and gave quirky names to others. Between them were being Trader Darwin vitamins and a non-alcoholic sparkling juice known as Eve’s Apple Sparkled by Adam.
He prided himself on checking out each individual classic of wine from California’s Napa Valley, including Trader Joe’s standby, Charles Shaw, affectionately known as Two-Buck Chuck because it offered for $1.99. (It even now does in the California suppliers, despite the fact that shipping and delivery prices have enhanced the rate in other states.)
“He marketed a large amount of improved wines way too,” his son observed with a chortle, recalling journeys the spouse and children designed to France to find them out.
Immediately after selling Trader Joe’s to German grocery retailer Aldi in 1979, Coulombe remained as its CEO until eventually 1988, when he remaining to launch a next vocation as what he known as a “temp,” coming in as interim CEO or marketing consultant for several substantial firms in transition. He retired in 2013.
Joseph Hardin Coulombe, an only boy or girl, was born on June 3, 1930, in San Diego and lived on an avocado ranch in nearby Del Mar. After serving in the Air Power, he attended Stanford University, where by he attained a bachelor’s diploma in economics, a master’s in business enterprise administration and fulfilled and married his wife, Alice.
A handful of a long time right after graduation, he was hired by the Rexall drugstore chain, which tasked him with establishing a chain of advantage suppliers known as Pronto. When Rexall misplaced fascination in the suppliers, he acquired them and had grown the chain to about a dozen retailers when the large 7-Eleven company produced a significant push into Southern California.
“So I experienced to do something unique,” he told the Los Angeles Occasions in 2014. “Scientific American had a story that of all folks experienced to go to higher education, 60% were being heading. I felt this newly educated — not smarter but superior-educated — class of men and women would want some thing different, and that was the genesis of Trader Joe’s.”
His wife’s mothers and fathers had released him to a world of meals earlier unfamiliar to him, which include high-quality olive oil, contemporary seafood and low-cost high-quality wine, and he figured points like that would be best for the youthful viewers he was looking for.
As he bargained for these merchandise, he’d sometimes occur throughout a specifically exceptional olive oil or classic wine, never to discover it again, and he would not stock an inferior product or service in its place.
He eschewed marketing gimmicks like loyalty golf equipment or reduction-leader product sales, finding the phrase out with quick radio places and the Trader Joe’s “Fearless Flyer” newsletter, whose previous-style visual appearance was influenced by a further revenue-preserving work. He desired to dress up the newsletter’s stories with illustrations he lower out of publications, but he designed positive he only took kinds on which the copyrights experienced expired.
He passed this sort of personal savings on not only to his consumers but workers, which Trader Joe’s features are among the retail’s finest compensated, with health-related, dental, vision and retirement designs and yearly salary will increase the firm states selection from 7% to 10%. Numerous staff have remained with Trader Joe’s for a long time.
“He just had a check out yesterday from worker No. 1,” his daughter Charlotte explained shortly prior to her father’s demise.
He and his wife also grew to become very well identified in Southern California philanthropic circles, contributing time and cash to these types of causes as Prepared Parenthood, the Los Angeles Opera and the Huntington Library, Art Museum and Botanical Gardens.
Stories vary on how the identify Trader Joe’s arrived about, with some saying it was impressed by a experience on Disneyland’s Jungle Cruise boat or a guide he read through identified as “White Shadows in the South Seas” or his favourite college hangout remaining a Trader Vic’s bar in close proximity to Stanford.
Coulombe, who cherished to vacation, did accept over the a long time that he had a fascination with the South Seas and place Trader into the identify and a nautical concept inside the retailers to lend that exotic charm to customers.
In addition to his 3 kids and wife of 67 yrs, Coulombe is survived by 6 grandchildren.