Giuseppe (Joe) Aiello
Joe Aiello’s ‘Flower of Sorrento’ Continental Supermarket, at 58 Spensley Street, has provided a central meeting place and convenience shopping for residents of east Clifton Hill since its establishment in 1968. For many years shopping at ‘Joe’s’ has been part of the local culture, although for more recent residents this has become shopping at ‘Albert’s’ since Joe handed over running the shop to his son and daughter in 2000. Nonetheless Joe remained an important figure in the shop.
Giuseppe migrated to Australia from a coastal village in Piano di Sorrento in southern Italy. He arrived in Melbourne by ship, the Roma, in 1960. He settled first in Newport and immediately started working at a Spotswood glass factory, followed by a job at a wool factory in Williamstown. He married his wife Vicky In Melbourne.
In 1968 they purchased a smaller version of the current ‘Flower of Sorrento’ in Spensley Street. They established their store in the middle of a quiet residential street in Clifton Hill. In earlier years there had been a small cluster of shops in that section of the street. In the 1930s these included a draper, boot maker, confectioner and cake shop. When Joe opened his shop in the 1960s there were still a variety of local shops in other parts of Spensley Street including two butchers, a chemist, and a hardware shop. Over time these closed in the face of competition from the big supermarkets and shopping malls.
Joe built a modern shop front and over the years the shop extended its size and range of goods, while always keeping its Italian flavour. It championed locally grown food, selling produce from the farm Joe owned at the foot of Mt Camel in Heathcote. Among the range of fruit and vegetables on display would be some labelled ‘from Joe’s farm’. Also on sale still is ‘Flower of Sorrento’ olive oil made from the handpicked olives from Joe’s olive groves.
As a small and friendly family business it became a centre of the local community, as a place where locals met each other as they shopped. Its windows provided a useful notice board for a variety of local goods, needs and services.
Joe’s funeral saw a large crowd of mourners at the requiem mass at St John’s Catholic Church in Queens Parade Clifton Hill.
Flower of Sorrento
|31 July 1937
|Date of Marriage
|Lucy, Rosie, Albert
|Status of Building
|58 Spensley Street
|27 May 2019
|Melbourne General Cemetery
Family sources and local reminiscences; https://assemblepapers.com.au/2016/05/12/flower-of-sorrento/