Joe Coulombe

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Joe Coulombe
Born Joseph Hardin Coulombe
(1930-06-03) June 3, 1930 (age 84)
San Diego, CA, USA
Known for Founder of Trader Joe's
Spouse(s) Alice Steere Coulombe

Joseph Hardin "Joe" Coulombe (born June 3, 1930)[1] is an American entrepreneur. He is a graduate of Stanford Business School and is a member of Alpha Kappa Lambda. He founded the grocery store chain Trader Joe's in 1967.[2]

After earning his MBA from Stanford Business School in 1954, he joined Rexall and was asked in 1958 to test the launch of a store brand to compete against 7-Eleven, Pronto Markets. After running six Pronto Markets in the Los Angeles area, Rexall asked Coulombe to close them down. The young entrepreneur decided to buy them out instead.[3]

After a decade of refining his strategy in a competitive environment, Coulombe renamed his venture from Pronto Markets to Trader Joe's in Pasadena in 1967. He led the chain to success and sold it to German billionaire Theo Albrecht in 1979. Coulombe continued with Trader Joe's as chief executive until retiring in 1988.[2]

Since then, he has served on boards of various companies, most recently Cost Plus and True Religion Apparel.[4] In 2000 Los Angeles magazine named him one of 10 almost famous Angelenos who helped shape the city’s culture.[2]


  1. ^ California Births, 1905 - 1995, Joseph Hardin Coulombe
  2. ^ a b c He Brought Trader Joe's to Main Street February 2006
  3. ^ Kowitt, Beth (23 August 2010). "Inside the secret world of Trader Joe's". Fortune Magazine. Cable News Network. Retrieved 27 August 2010. 
  4. ^ Kowitt, Beth (23 August 2010). "Meet the original Joe". Fortune Magazine. Cable News Network. Retrieved 27 August 2010. 

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