End of an era for Tripodi family

Tessa Randello

After decades of serving the Latrobe Valley community, Tripodi Fruit & Co Fruit Depot is closing its doors for good.

The Deakin Street grocer will be the last in a long line of Traralgon addresses for the second-generation family business.

Gino Tripodi from Tripodi Fruit & Co Fruit Depot said his father Stefano opened the first store in 1959 in Traralgon with another family and then moved on to open his first solo shop.

And, as the Tripodi family grew, so did the name of the business.

“When dad was married to my mum, Concetta, he changed the name to S & C Tripodi and then me and my brother came along and it was S & C Tripodi & Sons, its two generations of us in Traralgon selling fruit and veg,” he said.

“Tripodi & Co was a name that my wife, Claire, brother, Damian, and myself came up with to refresh the family business.

“Our aim … was to reintroduce top quality fruit and vegetables, old fashioned service and getting to know the customer personally.”

But Gino said that despite his love of Tripodi & Co it was time to move on.

“We didn’t want to do it but you have to weigh your options up and I think it’s best for the family and friends that we hang the apron up and give someone else the opportunity to make their own fingerprint in the Latrobe Valley in a pretty cool old building like this one,” he said.

“We still have a transport company that runs locally-grown produce from here to Melbourne markets and local factories, the focus then will be for me to slow down a bit and focus on the farmers.

“The feeling that I am getting now that we have gone public with the closure is that we are (going to be missed), we are getting gifts and people telling us it’s really sad that we are going.”

As a last hurrah Tripodi & Co is holding a final event at the store tomorrow.

“We will have Santa here, our local fish guy from Lakes Entrance, fresh flowers and it will be a market-style goodbye that we do every Christmas,” he said.

“I have issues saying goodbye when I am leaving someone’s house, so right now for me today feels like a final performance and like Crowded House we came back for an encore on Tuesday and that will be it for us, which is sad, but we will still be involved in fruit and veg just not in retail,” he said.

“I am just trying to look at the positives right now.”

One of those positives is the “great little business” that will be replacing Tripodi & Co at 2 Deakin Street, Traralgon.

“(Our departure) will be making way for a brand new Latrobe Valley family-based business, so one old business out and a new one coming,” he said.