Joe Coulombe, whose instinct for what the musicians, museum curators, and journalists wanted out of a market led to a national food retail empire, has died. He passed at age 89 Friday at his Pasadena, Calif. home after a long illness, according to his son, Joseph.
Coulombe started his retail career with a chain of 18 convenience stores called Pronto Markets, but soon understood that 7-11 posed competition he couldn’t beat.
The Stanford graduate then put his analytical skillls to work, noting the national trends for increased education and interest in international foods. He also learned those with more schooling drink more booze, according to The New York Times.
Pronto Markets adapted those concepts, and soon became Trader Joe’s
“Trader Joe’s is for over-educated and underpaid people, for all the classical musicians, museum curators, journalists,” Coloumbe told the Los Angeles Times in 2011.
The first store opened in Pasadena in 1967 and grew to more than 500 Trader Joe’s shops in 40 states.