Trader Joes Founder Dies


Evelyn Peyovich, Editor

Almost everyone who lives in Magnolia or other suburban areas of Seattle has been to Trader Joe’s. It’s an iconic childhood memory that many people my age have, but no one has really ever questioned the namesake of the store. Until now, when the store’s founder died.

On February 28th, 2020, Joe Coulumbe, the founder of Trader Joes, died at 89 years old. He died in Pasadena, California, after living a long life of thriving in his small maritime grocery store turned supermarket empire. Coulumbe retired in 1988, handing the company over to John Shields. Now, the company is run by CEO Dan Bane, and currently it has over 500 stores, compared to the 19 small stores when Joe retired. But people predict that if Joe continued running the company, the grocery empire would be as big as Whole Foods – or bigger. 

Trader Joe’s has expanded to many states (42, to be exact, along with Washington D.C.). They’ve gained a reputation for having cheap, healthy, high quality products, like their gnocchi which is only $1.69 for around two serving sizes. They have fantastic samples, amazing freeze-dried fruit, and amazing cleaning products, among other things. 

They’ve gotten a lot of press lately, since Coulumbe’s death, and people are calling attention to how Coulumbe, with his excellent marketing and business skills, made the store thrive. It’s an example for how businesses should be: honest, affordable, and healthy.