• Galluzzos Fruit and Vegetables is now managed by third generation owners Damien and Joseph Galluzzo. (SBS Small Business Secrets)Source: SBS Small Business Secrets
Over five generations, the Galluzzo family fruit shop and deli has become an institution in Sydney's inner west.
SBS Small Business Secrets
21 Jul 2016 - 2:49 PM  UPDATED 19 Jan 2017 - 3:34 PM

A group of Galluzzo's stand beaming in rows, in the manner of a school class photo.

They are gathered in their old home above the family fruit shop, to talk to SBS about Galluzzo's Fruit Shop and Deli, a Sydney institution.

It isn't long before the five generations start gently squabbling about who stands where.

"Uncle" Tony Galluzzo's siblings, sons, children and grandchildren stop and lean expectantly toward him as he clears his throat, ready to share the story of how the business began.

When Salvatore Galluzzo started a fruit shop in inner west Sydney in the 1930's, "Italy wasn't the flavour of the month in Australia", recalls his son, who was born and raised in the house above.

"Here in Glebe we weren't very, very popular, but Dad just kept plugging away and giving the best of himself."

It worked - Salvatore soon became Sam and the Italian family and its fresh produce were much loved, by the time a teenaged Frank took over from his sick father.

"Frank was the backbone of the family. He was designated as taking over the business."

Books or potatoes?

As younger siblings, Tony and his sister Rose were given a choice their brother wasn't; would they take books or potatoes?

"My Mum and Dad said there are the books that you study and there are the potatoes that you have to carry, now if you don't want to study and you muck around, the potatoes are always here waiting for you," Tony said.

They chose books.

"The fruit shop for me was like, every afternoon I would put my bag down and put my apron down and had to work in the shop until I did my school work. We all had to do it, take the rubbish out sweep the floor - that was part of it all, so I didn't have any aspiration to work in the fruit shop I had had it!" Rose said.

The potatoes and books conversation has become something of a coming of age ritual in the Galluzzo family, but of Frank and his wife Melina's seven children, only the two youngest took the spuds.

"We would all have to pull together and work in the shop, and of course, like you Aunty, I just didn't like to serve!" Catherine said.

The next generation

Brothers Jo and Damien have run the shop for close to two decades, taking on the business from their parents.

"It was son, either you go to Uni or you work in the shop," Jo recalled.

Jo started at shop in his late teens, and a year or so later Damien followed his big brother into the business.

"I wouldn't study after being away from home, too much expectation. So Dad said do you want to come to the shop, it would be good to have two brothers in the shop," Damien said.

It was a good move - Galluzzo's has thrived in an increasingly competitive retail market, expanding to open a deli next door to the original fruit shop, in 2014.

At the mention of the deli, Frank and Melina's children share knowing looks and tears as they talk about the deli "Mum wanted".

"She would have just loved it," Catherine said, "and Jo and Damien have done such a wonderful job."

"We have always wanted to keep them here. And that is why, a lot of the things we do, we do because that's what they wanted," Jo said.

Damien's sons Frankie and Jesse are apples that don't fall far from the tree - a metaphor they and their dad appreciate.

"One of the tricks Frank would use to promote and sell apples is he would just pick one up off the shelf and go 'click' and break it in half," Tony's mid-air demonstration is soon put to practice, as three generations teach each other how to split an apple with their hands.

At 15, Frankie has had the potatoes and books conversation too - but unlike all before him, he has decided to take both.

"As Dad said and all my uncles and aunties have said, they're like, do your education, get a degree and then you can work in the business," he said.

"I will use my degree to develop the shop too. It would still be providing the same service we have given for so many years. But you've got to expand it to keep it competitive in the marketplace today."

At nine, his brother Jesse is easing into the idea too.

"My brother has been talking me in on the business, so yeah; I have been trying to make up my mind."

At five, it's a bit too young for Sebastian to choose careers, but he can vouch strongly for the family's blueberries – “delicious”.

Whether their future holds potatoes or books, for every one of them, there will always be room for family.


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