A photo of him bagging groceries quickly went viral, but it also resulted in an outpouring of support from fellow actors on social media.
"We have turned bad karma into good karma," Owens told Eyewitness News.
It was a subtle dig at "Karma," the woman who secretly snapped a picture of him working at the store in Clifton.
The 57-year-old played Elvin, Cliff Huxtabel's son-in-law on The Cosby Show.
"All of a sudden, it's out there," he said. "A terrible picture which of course I have to say is Photoshopped."
Extended interview with Owens:
He can now joke about it, but he initially panicked after a reporter told him he was going ahead with the story with or without his comment.
Related: Geoffrey Owens on Good Morning America: 'No one has to feel sorry for me'
Owens, who is very private, immediately called his manager and told him he had to leave work.
"For the sake of my own comfort and dignity, I didn't feel like I could be in that position," he said. "And that's why I left."
But it's what Karma wrote in her post -- that she was shocked to see him working there and that it made her feel bad -- that was a turning point.
Many felt it was a case of job shaming, but just as quickly as it went south, it went north with an outpouring of support for the married father.
Owens is proud of something much bigger and more important that is now happening -- a conversation about what it means to work in this country.
"Work is honorable, work is noble," he said. "And some jobs are not better than other jobs, and no one should be shamed for doing. What's wrong with working?"
Owens took a temporary leave from Trader Joe's and hasn't decided what's next, but he says his calling is to be an actor -- all while proudly wearing his work badge.
"I wanted to do this for the guys at store #610 in Clifton, New Jersey," he said. "Shout out to all of them. They are great people."
* More New Jersey news
* Send us a news tip
* Download the abc7NY app for breaking news alerts
* Follow us on YouTube