Queen Victoria Market (QVM) stall Tomato City has been in owner John Pontelandolfo’s family for almost 75 years.
Mr Pontelandolfo’s father started the fruit and vegetable stall at the market in 1946 at the age of 19 after emigrating from Molise in Italy.
After leaving his job in the insurance industry, Mr Pontelandolfo tried his hand at running the business.
“My father was going overseas and I was leaving the company and where I was working so I ran the business for three months,” Mr Pontelandolfo said.
“I stayed on because it was a very good environment to work. And it still is”.
Mr Pontelandolfo credits the “family environment” of QVM for keeping him in the job for more than 30 years.
“Our customers are beautiful and they’re loyal as well so it’s a very good atmosphere to work in,” Mr Pontelandolfo said.
“Even the neighbouring traders are all very friendly and try to be like family rather than overly competitive.”
Business at Tomato City has thrived as the Queen Victoria Market returns to full swing following the COVID lockdown, which crippled the city last year.
“My old customers have all returned. When there was that little lockdown they were not happy about it and then it’s opened up again and they’ve all come back,” Mr Pontelandolfo said.
“We were very, very lucky during the lockdown. We had two weeks, one week we lost money and one week we broke even. And then it went back to some sort of normality.”
At Tomato City, Mr Pontelandolfo said customers were guaranteed to enjoy freshly-grown Victorian produce.
“Our main line of tomatoes is grown in Victoria. As well as things like peas, beans, lettuces, cabbages and our grapes. Our produce is picked, packed and brought to market rather than satt in the fridge waiting for shipment down to Victoria,” Mr Pontelandolfo said.
“What I enjoy about the job is that we get to go and source the best fruit and vegetables that we can and then we bring them back to the market.”
Tomato City is located in H Shed.