Early Trader Joe’s stores were more like a deli than grocery stores. The locations operated as such until the company was bought out in 1979. In the 1990s, Trader Joe’s location expanded tenfold, as did profits.
You’ll often hear that Trader Joe’s is owned by the same family as Aldi. That is partially true, but it’s complicated.
After decades of running Trader Joe’s, the owner of Aldi Nord, Theo Albrecht, purchased Trader Joe’s from Joe Coulombe in 1979. Despite the ownership change, Coulombe stayed on as CEO until 1987.
While there is a connection between the ownership groups of Theo and Karl Albrecht, they are separate ownership groups that run very different stores that are only connected by the Aldi name.
Aldi Nord, and therefore Trader Joe’s, is not a publicly traded company, nor are Trader Joe’s stores franchised out. This makes it difficult as an investor to become an owner of the Trader Joe’s brand.
Now you know more about the relationship between Trader Joe’s and Aldi and can explain the exact situation to your friends the next time it’s mentioned.