by Joe Coulombe, with Patty Civalleri

Joe Coulombe, the founder of the beloved Trader Joe's grocery chain, finally tells his story about how he created America's favorite retail brand. During the publishing process, Joe passed away, but his co-author, Patty Civalleri picked up the ball before it ever hit the ground.

This book serves up a dynamic discussion about how Joe began, his pitfalls, his most frightening moment, and his formula for differentiation. Combined with his attitude about employees, and the way he eliminated the middlemen, you will skillfully be able to take your team down the path to 'Thinking Like Joe.' 

Joe viewed the world differently, and it is defined well here. Through his lens, you will see how it affected the entire Trader Joe's recipe.

The book is peppered throughout with fun 'foodie' nuggets that are sure to entertain and bring into context the way that the products finally shaped the company.

Patty Civalleri signs books with Leroy Watson, the very first employee of Trader Joe's.

Patty Civalleri & Leroy Watson share the stage at the Long Beach Yacht Club in California.

'Trader' Joe Coulombe's wife Alice enjoys an evening of signing books in Pasadena, Cal.


...and they NAILED it!

In my experience as a communications coach for some of the world's largest brands, I can tell you that successful leaders read more books than the average person. In fact, they not only read more books, they adopt the strategies they learn. The story of Trader Joe's is a good example of how the power of books can shape your ideas or new business. Trader Joe's founder, Joe Coulombe, wrote his memoir, Becoming Trader Joe, but never saw it published. He died at the age of 89. 

Carmine Gallo


“Becoming Trader Joe” is light on biographical narrative; Coulombe does not seem to be the sort of businessman who believes in self-mythologizing. In fact, he was in no hurry to publish a memoir. Thinking about the hallmarks of the Trader Joe’s brand, it’s easy to imagine Coulombe as a progressive idealist, obsessed with the idea that his business was helping to make the world a better place. As the leader of a profit-driven company, he did not try to sell his colleagues or readers on the illusion that he was first and foremost a do-gooder.

Carrie Battan

Staff Writer

There are many keys to creating a thriving company, and [Joe] Coulombe shares them all in "Becoming Trader Joe" a memoir and how-to-succeed in business chronicle. We can only guess how Joe would have managed the current pandemic, but it's safe to say that he would have been well-informed and ever ready to adapt.

Victorino Matus


There are two iconic pieces of signage in Los Angeles. One is big and tall and says “Hollywood,” the other is small and red and says “Trader Joe’s.” This book is much more than a how-to guide. Moving from the 1960's to the 1990's, it is also a tour of California's shifting economy and culture guided by one of its most original thinkers. If there is a better description of LA's evolution over the years, I don't know one.

Mary McNamara



The Guy that Lived Outside the Box.

Your audience will enjoy a lively event when Patty Civalleri comes to speak at your next conference or event. 

She covers some of Joe's more important points about building the company, making this discussion light and fun overall! 

Let us know if you are interested in adding Patty to your event program.