Grocery Innovator Joe Coulombe Dies at 89

Gina Acosta
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Grocery Innovator Joe Coulombe Dies at 89
Today the Trader Joe's brand and stores have a cult-like following; the stores attract long lines of shoppers. 

Joe Coulombe, the namesake and founder of the Trader Joe's grocery chain, has died at 89, the company confirmed in a statement.

Coulombe died in his Pasadena, Calif., home on Friday after a long illness, the New York Times reported.

Coulombe founded the Trader Joe's chain in 1967 and today the brand and stores have a cult-like following among shoppers in the United States and the world. 

After selling Trader Joe’s to German grocery retailer Aldi Nord in 1979, Coulombe remained its chief executive until 1988, when he left to launch a second career in consulting. He retired in 2013.

In 2017, Trader Joe's made $13.3 billion according to Bloomberg data, yet the grocery chain has no online store, no grocery pickup or delivery, no loyalty programs, and no sales. When you break it down to square footage, Trader Joe's is likely the most profitable grocer in the U.S. at $1,734 worth of items sold per square foot (according to JLL); its stores aren't much larger than 15,000 square feet. And more than 90% of the assortment at Trader Joe's is private branded.

The supermarket chain is also consistently ranked as one of the best places to work, with good hourly wages and benefits, and overall high morale among staffers.

Since its opening, the chain has grown to more than 500 stores in 42 states and Washington, D.C.


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