Trader Joe’s founder Joe Coulombe, dead at age 89

Joe Coulombe, the founder of Trader Joe’s, died Friday at the age of 89. Coulombe launched the nautical-themed “neighborhood grocery store” in the late 1960s. It soon became a Southern California institution with a marketing plan aimed at customers who were “overeducated and underpaid,” reports The L.A. Times. The piece explores TJ’s signature quirks, e.g., dividing employees into “crew members,” “mates,” and a store manager dubbed “The Captain.” Elements of its success story also include: no major advertising, Trader Joe’s-labeled products, and living wages with benefits for its workers. In 1979, Coulombe sold the company to Theo Albrecht, co-founder of the supermarket chain Aldi.

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