Late last week publishing house HarperCollins Leadership announced the launch of the highly anticipated book Becoming Trader Joe. Trader Joe’s is one of the most beloved grocery brands in America today, with loyal fans that have accumulated over 50 years. The story of its revolutionary success is told by private brand icon and founder, Joe Coulombe, who truly was a visionary. This book takes the reader on an exploration into the creative and expansive mind of a true entrepreneur who made his riches by seeing opportunities where others would miss them.
“We should all be inspired to think like Joe. He shares how to get from ‘where you are’ to ‘where you want to be’ by thinking outside the box. What a fascinating life! ” — Jack Canfield, Author of the Chicken Soup for the Soul series.
In 1967, Joe owned 16 “variety stores” when a Texas retail force was positioned to come to California and challenge Joe’s success. That “Texas force” was the 7-11 retail chain. This created a cathartic reaction in Joe. But he was destined not to fail.
The concept for Trader Joe’s coalesced from several pieces of stimuli: a popular Theme Park boat ride, movies like “Beyond the Reef” were playing in the theaters and the fact that Trader Vic’s had invented and popularized the Mai Tai drink with little umbrellas. All of these pieces came together in Joe’s mind to form his final vision.
“At a time in American history when frozen dinners and processed foods were the trusted staples, Joe saw the opportunity to create a different type of grocery store for the ‘over-educated and underpaid’ consumer, the burgeoning middle class. The book is filled with stories of brilliant marketing moves, including the story about ‘Extra-large eggs’ that readers will surely enjoy.” — Leroy Watson, Joe’s first employee, and life-long friend.
In his own words, Joe takes us on a journey from the different phases and business strategies of Trader Joe’s which in many ways mirrored the same growth and expansion Joe went through personally throughout the process. From the “Good Time Charlie” phase where the signature Hawaiian shirt was born to the “Whole Earth Harry” phase in which the organic food strategy came to fruition to the “Mac the Knife” phase which catapulted Trader Joe’s to the success it still enjoys today.
Joe Coulombe passed away in 2020 at the age of 89 during the publication of this book. In celebration of his life and as a true labor of love, co-author Patty Civalleri and Joe’s right-hand man Leroy Watson, have made it their mission to fulfill Joe’s legacy by following through with the publication of Joe’s book.
Becoming Trader Joe is now being packaged as a limited episode series for sale to the cable and streaming platforms. “This is a true ‘David and Goliath’ story,” said Civalleri. “Joe went up against the big guys and by all accounts, he shouldn’t have succeeded.” The book Becoming Trader Joe is scheduled for release on June 22, 2021.