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Joe Coulombe, founder of popular Trader Joe’s markets, dies at 89

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Posted at 11:58 AM, Feb 29, 2020
and last updated 2020-02-29 11:58:04-05

LOS ANGELES (AP) — The man who created Trader Joe’s markets with a vision that college-educated but poorly paid young people would buy healthy foods if they could only afford them has died.

Joe Coulombe's family says he died Friday at age 89.

Coulombe opened the first of his quirky, nautically themed markets in Pasadena, California, in 1967.

He stocked the stores with granola, organic foods and other items he bought directly from suppliers to hold prices down.

Trader Joe’s now has more than 500 stores in over 40 states.

In a statement, Trader Joe's CEO Dan Bane said Coulombe was the perfect person at the right time for the company.

"He was a brilliant thinker with a mesmerizing personality that simply galvanized all with whom he worked," said Bane. "He was not only our founder, he was our first spokesperson. He starred in captivating radio ads for years, always signing off with his unique, 'thanks for listening.' Joe developed a cadre of leaders that carried on his vision and helped shape Trader Joe's in the early years."