Ferdinando Pisciuneri

From small to big: How Fred’s became a local institution

Ferdinando Pisciuneri was the owner of Fred's fruit market
Ferdinando Pisciuneri, a.k.a Fred, was loved by the locals who frequently visited the fruit market for everyday groceries. (Credit: Supplied)

Born into an Italian family that migrated from Ardore, a city located in southern Reggio Calabria province, Ferdinando Pisciuneri, best known as Fred, was the eldest of six.

To help his parents out on the family farm in Bringelly, Sydney where they were growing an abundance of fruits and vegetables, Fred opened up his first fruit and vegetable shop in 1962 in the southwestern suburb of Villawood, just doors away from one of the best-selling fruit and vegetable shops in the at the time. At that time, he was only 22 years old.

But even if the store faced some tough competition, when the doors open at Fred’s, it was greeted with an influx of happy customers.

“From today we still get people from that shop, many who are elderly people. A lot of people come to shop here yes because the prices and quality are good, but they came here because of him; they all knew him, “ said Domenic Pisciuneri of his father.

Fred passed away two years ago at age of 72, but his son Domenic still carries on his legacy. Today, Domenic runs a much larger version of the original Fred’s, not only selling fruits and vegetables but also product lines serving the Italian, Croatian, Asian, and South America communities in the local area. There is also a butcher, deli, and liquor store on-site.

“We have such a mix of cultures and nationalities, we’re lucky we can sell so many lines that other areas can’t. But in saying that, we have some of the fussiest customers, mainly because they all take food so seriously.

“But in saying that they know what they want, and so you can’t be a Coles or Woolies; we have to be the leader. But I want people coming from other areas to shop with us, too.”

Domenic Pisciuneri is the owner of Fred's
Domenic Pisciuneri continues to keep his dad’s dreams alive running Fred’s.

It was only in the last 15 years did Fred’s make a return. For a while, when Domenic first started helping out with the family business at the age of 14, after he left school, his father had sold off Fred’s and was working for Duffy’s Brothers, a chain fruit market.

But to help his dad fulfil a long-term dream to re-own something, Domenic decided to open up his own fruit and vegetable shop, a few doors down from where Fred’s stands today, with the original family business name.

“I said we should go back to Fred’s but dad wanted to call it Fred’s and Son. I said no-no no one knows Fred’s and Son; they only know Fred’s,” he said.

“You wouldn’t believe when we opened the amount of old customers who came back. He was seeing all these kids from school that had all grown. They would go up to him and say, ‘Do you remember me?”

Eventually when groceries started to be introduced, the store grew too small.
“Dad started looking for something bigger. At the time I had left working the shop because I had an operating and ended up working for a stand in the market. But when this place came up dad went bigger, so instead of retiring he went bigger.”

Fred’s Fruit Market
661-667 Smithfield Road
Edensor Park, Sydney
fredsfruit.com

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