The ‘Joe’ Behind the Name Trader Joe’s

Tom Blank of Weird History Food explains who Joe is behind the incredibly successful Trader Joe’s grocery store chain.

Weird History Food is making a grocery list to show you the History of Trader Joe’s. Founded in California, the Trader Joe’s grocery store has grown in popularity, to almost cult-like status, over the past few decades. But what makes Trader Joe’s so unique?

Trader Joe’s was the brainchild of Joe Coulombe, a Los Angeles grocer who founded Pronto Markets. While Coulombe was successful, he felt that he could sell better food for less money in larger spaces. It was a trip to the Caribbean that led Coulombe down the nautical path and from there Trader Joe’s was born.

After its successful launch, Coulombe sold the store to partial owners of Aldi in 1979. New management took over and began expanding across the country, but Coulombe’s name “Joe” still remains on every store.

Trader Joe’s is owned by the same family that partially owns Aldi Supermarkets but the two different brands are managed and maintained as completely separate companies Trader Joe’s now has over 560 locations in 42 states that actually makes it bigger than Whole Foods

Joe of Trader Joes
Lori Dorn
Lori Dorn

Lori is a Laughing Squid Contributing Editor based in New York City who has been writing blog posts for over a decade. She also enjoys making jewelry, playing guitar, taking photos and mixing craft cocktails. Lori can be found posting on Threads and sharing photos on Instagram.