• Posted by Califia Suntree on August 25th, 2010, 4:40 PM

    If you are like me and almost everyone I know, Trader Joe’s keeps you alive. It’s cheap, high quality, and blessedly limited in its options. (Laundry detergent: liquid or powder? The end.) I never really wanted to know what was behind the curtain; but I assumed Trader Joe was an Oz-like character rolling around in money (in a Hawaiian shirt, of course) and that the prices were low for reasons I would rather not know. Turns out, as this fascinating if somewhat sycophantic Fortune magazine story reveals, Trader Joe’s is not in fact an evil empire–it’s just a smart highly secretive business that uses its lack of choice to consumers’ benefit. And the mastermind is not in fact Mr. Joe–he was bought out in the 1970s–but an über-reclusive German billionaire named Theo Albrecht who lives with his brother on a private island in the North Sea. Rather, he lived there–Herr Albrecht died on July 24 at 88. What will happen to his empire of trail mix and cheap booze? We’ll see, but I’m really hoping it stays on the up and up. They just introduced all-natural tater tots for $1.99. And I love tater tots.

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