Joe Coulombe, who was the founder of Trader Joe’s, has died at the age of 89 at his Pasadena, California home on Friday his family confirmed.
Coulombe’s son, Joe Coulombe, Jr., confirmed his father’s death. He said his father died after battling a “long illness.” Coulombe started developing the idea for Trader Joe’s back in 1967.
After 7-Eleven stores started to flood Southern California, Joe Coulombe decided to launch a chain that brings educated, young adults global food at a low price. His ideas paved the way for him to open his first Trader Joe’s in Pasadena, California.
In 1972, Joe Coulombe decided to capitalize on the success of his growing chain by introducing its own private label. He started by producing granola before expanding to a wide range of items. This includes Trader Joe’s popular Charles Shaw wine, which is affectionately known as “Two Buck Chuck.” In 1979, Joe sold the company to German grocery retailer Aldi Nord. He retired from the company nine years later.
Since selling Trader Joe’s, the chain has expanded to include 500 locations in 42 states and Washington, D.C. Despite going corporate, Trader Joe’s maintained Coulombe’s commitment to health, affordable pricing, and quality.
In his retirement, Joe Coulombe and his wife supported various cultural institutions. He also hosted a local radio show in Los Angeles in which he spoke about his world travels, building Trader Joe’s, and other random facts.
Joe is survived by his wife, their three children, their spouses, and six grandchildren.