From the LA Times: Trader Joe wrote a memoir, and it’s just as much fun as you’d expect
About founder Joe Coulombe's posthumously published memoir, Becoming Trader Joe: How I Did Business My Way and Still Beat the Big Guys (eG-friendly Amazon.com link).
Excerpt from the LAT article:
In the early 2000s, decades after he had sold it to the German family that also owns Aldi’s, Coulombe wrote a “how I did it” history of Trader Joe’s, a chronicle of the clever end-runs, deep research and influences that powered the now-national chain. The tone is conversational, one man’s view of the world through the wine, spirit and grocery business, filled with the type of puns, literary references and bold-faced pronouncements that mark the store’s signage and its legendary promotional leaflet, the Fearless Flyer.
According to Patty Civalleri, who shepherded the book to publication, Coulombe did not imagine the book would ever be published; he wrote it simply to ensure there would be a record. In 2007, he gave it to original Trader Joe’s employee and longtime friend Leroy Watson, with instructions to do whatever he wanted with it.
Watson knew the Trader Joe’s story almost as well as Coulombe, but he had no idea what to do with a book. Eleven years later, he approached Civalleri, a friend who has published several travel guides, and asked her advice. “I read the book and fell in love,” Civalleri says. “Joe’s voice was in every sentence.”
So at Watson’s behest, and with Coulombe’s blessing, she edited the manuscript “for grammar and flow,” added some images and pitched it to her agent.
Coulombe died in the pre-pandemic days of 2020, which makes the publication of “Becoming Trader Joe: How I Did Business My Way & Still Beat the Big Guys” further proof of his energy and ingenuity: A year after his death, Coulombe is still telling us how it’s done.
Edited to add that the book comes out on June 22