cover image Becoming Trader Joe: How I Did Business My Way and Still Beat the Big Guys

Becoming Trader Joe: How I Did Business My Way and Still Beat the Big Guys

Joe Coulombe, with Patty Civalleri. HarperCollins Leadership, $19.99 trade paper (288p) ISBN 978-1-40022-543-9

Trader Joe’s founder Coulombe details the company’s rise from a plucky grocery operation to industry heavyweight with legions of loyal customers in his inspiring and revealing debut. He largely focuses on the often-surprising decisions behind the company’s success, covering the company’s strategies for buying, advertising, distributing, and day-to-day operations since opening in 1967. Unconventional decisions about minor facets of the business paid big rewards, he demonstrates: in the 1980s, Coulombe used the enterprise’s increasingly powerful brand, for example, to popularize the previously little-known pilchard as a low-cost alternative to tuna. Coulombe shares his thoughts on his hiring process (and why he’s made it a point to hire people over 55) and his fondness for left-handed employees (they “see the world differently”), and details how he capitalized on such trends as the homogenization of American culture and the emergence of a well-educated, well-traveled consumer demographic. Coulombe also offers an excellent road map for success in life more generally, showing how determination and a willingness to try new things can save the day. Readers interested in the fascinating history behind a beloved brand—and entrepreneurs looking for guidance on how to think out of the box—need look no further. (June)