The Piedimonte family has been involved in the grocery business in Australia since 28th August 1958. With a background of seven family warehouses in the city of Milazzo Sicily, Mr Piedimonte Snr came to Australia in 1950. Soon he sent to Italy for his wife and family. Mr Piedimonte Snr worked at a wool mill while Mel and Sam went to school.
Then on leaving school at a young age, Sam Junior started on the course that has produced as many Victorian independents as any single cause, he started working for Moran and Cato. He had two and half years in branch 11,branch 5, and branch 43 before his father bought the empty premises of a wholesale butcher in Best Street, North Fitzroy. Mel, Sam and Father "pulled the Inside out of it and did it up" and opened the whole 20ft. by 30ft. of it as a grocery shop.
"I'll never forget the first day, it was the shock of my life," said Mr Sam Piedimonte. We took £28 – and it was a Thursday. The main problem was getting the people into the store. So Sam and Mel soon distributed themselves handbills in the local area printed in Italian and English, and to save costs would help the printer print.
The first 20ft. by 10ft. extension to the store was added four years later, while it was still selling continental groceries to Italians under service conditions. In 1962 the whole of the backyard was enclosed to form a large storeroom. Shortly after that the Piedimontes bought the tailor's shop next door and extended into it and converted to self-service. Launch day was on 10th October 1963. "GRANDE Apertura J.Piedimonte & Sons" was the heading on a "specials" handbill. It was an Italian Family food store's way of telling a large band of Italian customers that it was having a gala opening. The handbill went on to say that the store was featuring "prezzi Inbattibili" – unbeatable prices, in local and imported goods. Non-Italian reading North Fitzroy residents got much the same message in English on the other side of the Handbill. The bi-lingual handbill set the pattern for which the store would cater for in roughly equal amounts for both Australians and continental tastes. The business was built on oil, pasta and cheese. Altogether 45 varieties of pasta and 22 varieties of continental cheese and oil were displayed in their appropriate department alongside locally made Australian goods.
On the 15th December 1969 the third major extension was completed. The store was doubled in size taking it to 11,000sq.ft. Fresh food departments were added being fresh cakes, greengrocer, and service butcher shop, all of which were located at the front of the store. The Delicatessen was also increased in size to cater for the ever growing range of smallgoods and local and imported cheese. One costly feature was the installation of air-conditioning with two aircurtains over both entrances. "Comfortable shoppers are happy shoppers and air-conditioning is a chain store feature that Independents must install if they are to match the corporate companies," said Mr. Sam Piedimonte.
Piedimonte's joined the Saveway Group at the same time and set about capturing the Australian grocery business of Fitzroy with low priced specials and a full range of foods. In the coming years from 1969 to 1997, Piedimonte's changed buying groups names from Save-way to Rite-way in 1974, to Super-Rite in 1981 to SSW in 1985 (Self Service Wholesalers) to Festival in 1993 - to the current banner called IGA (Independent Grocers of Australia).
In 1982 saw beginning of the next extensions and the third generation of Piedimontes entering the family business. On 16th October saw the opening of a larger fruit and vegetable department at the entry of the supermarket. This department was now the responsibility of Guiseppe Piedimonte, son of Mel Piedimonte. Guiseppe was given the responsibility of going to the Melbourne wholesale produce market every weekday morning to buy produce for the department. Before Guiseepe came into the family business he completed all higher education schooling and received a certificate in sales and marketing. He then worked for a large chain of supermarkets for 12 months.The second extension came when the family purchased the shoe store next door and purchased a liquor license. This was opened on 22nd November 1982.
The next major extensions were carried out in 1984 to current day. This saw the purchase of five properties on both sides of the existing store and the back of the store as well. This extension saw all three walls of the then existing store removed, all ceilings and lighting removed and replaced with new material. Equipment was all upgraded with scanning on checkouts and department scales all linked to one computer. Refrigeration and grocery shelves were replaced with new and a bakery department was added including a first floor selling area of giftware, manchester, stationary, video hire, one hour photo processing, key cutting and show repair.
In 1985 saw the introduction of more young family members to the business. Joseph Piedimonte son of Sam Piedimonte began taking on the responsibility of managing the bakery department and Anna Piedimonte daughter of Mel Piedimonte taking the task of office systems and controls. Since then other younger members of the family have taken up key rolls in helping to run the business with Sam and Mel.
In order to give the next generation a greater knowledge of supermarket business and the every changing trends, a second supermarket was purchased in 1991. This store was refurbished and Joseph and Guiseppe were given the challenge of running this store, putting all of their knowledge that had learned into place. This store has grown to a very well layed out and managed store; credit to the training Sam and Mel have give to the next generation of Piedimontes.
Although the Italians and Greeks who lived in North Fitzroy, Carlton and Brunswick in 1958 have mostly moved to the outer suburbs of Reservoir, Lalor, Thomastown, Buleen and Templstone many still came back to shop with their children that are now married and have children of there own.