Joe has been working for Trader Joe’s for six years. He started in Michigan and was then transferred to Rockville before finally accepting a move to the downtown Washington, DC location. “I do all the signage you see around here,” he explains. I did a bit of a panoramic scan of the store and realized that every sign whether it be for apples or for frozen entres of chicken masala.
A former NYC resident, Joe started out as a graphic designer. When he moved to Michigan he realized that he could apply his background as a graphic designer to be an in-store artist for the privately held Californian grocer. It was odd to call them Californian, because you feel like you are in your neighborhood store. Maybe it’s the hand written signs or the goofy Hawaiian shirts. By the way, I am all for fun shirts, but I think it might be time to change the shirts. Or maybe it’s just how everyone seems happy there!
When the 36-year-old artist isn’t working, he enjoys biking, painting, and sports. He was following the World Cup when we met and was pulling for the Netherlands after his favorite team, Italy, was disqualified.
“I’ll probably give the $10 to a homeless person. I see some regularly not too far from here,” he says. “Or maybe I will give it to the guy who sells the homeless newspaper (Street Sense) in front of the store.” I didn’t see anyone outside the day I was there.
I wanted to take a photo of Joe or some of his art work but he preferred not to be photographed and advised me of their policy that forbids photographs to be taken inside the store. I always try to respect people’s privacy.
By the way, if you are wondering if Joe is the “Trader Joe.” He’s not…that would be the founder Joe Coulombe who turns 80 this year. Coincidentally he says that his wife worked for a company that had the same name as her first name….I don’t remember exactly, but it was like her name was Anne and she worked for Anne Klein.