‘Dago’ is now fruit and veg king after 54 years’ slog

by admin on July 14th, 2018

filed under 南京夜网

Danny Luppino, with son Dominic, has been a fruit and vegetable stallholder at Dandenong Market for 54 years. Photo: Eddie Jim After a year off with throat cancer, Danny Luppino couldn’t wait to get back to his Dandenong Market stall of 54 yers, where he feels he belongs. Photo: Eddie Jim
Nanjing Night Net

Danny Luppino’s real first name is Diego, but when he set up a stall at Dandenong Market in 1962, not long off the boat from Calabria, he was tagged with the migrant slur Dago.

He changed to “Danny” but says other produce vendors, who were local farmers, looked down on him and refused to help him out by pooling the buying of stock.

Mr Luppino, now 74, has had the last laugh, because 54 years later, his business, Luppino Fresh, occupies 25 per cent of the market’s fruit and vegetable area.

Longtime customers are now friends, and he loves work so much that four years ago, after a year off with throat cancer, he returned to work.

“When I came back, one customer, soon as he sees me, he grabs me and cries like baby. He says, ‘I thought you were dead’.”

Yes, his son Dominic is technically in charge, but Mr Luppino still gets up at home in Essendon at midnight to be at the wholesale market in Epping at 1am. He says it’s “to help Dominic. The business is too much for one person to run.”

Dandenong Market, now a melting pot of cultures from Sri Lankan to Maori and Russian, celebrates its 150th year on October 16 with a multicultural festival of food, music and dance, and a 19th century market stall photo booth.

From October 11, a book on the market’s history, by former Age journalist Michael Shmith​, will be on sale at the market.

The book tells how, for its first 90 years, the market’s heart was the stock market, to which cattle would be herded from outlying farms through Dandenong streets to be auctioned.

The stock market moved to separate premises in 1958, and Dandenong Market’s focus shifted to being a shopping hub selling everything from budgerigars to tools and secondhand cars.

In the 1920s and 1940s, some councillors complained of too many “foreigner” stallholders, and ruled that vacant sites should be given to British citizens and war veterans.

But in 2016, the ethnic diversity of staff and customers – not to mention food and goods – are a selling point.

The market now has 5 million annual visitors, employs 1100 people and has 200 stalls.

Dom Luppino says his father still calls the shots. “I knew he’d come back with a vengeance. He’s just got so much passion. He loves the job. He’d be lost without it.”

Market life is hard. Danny and Dom work up to 18 hours a day. Danny’s motto is “use the brain, be honest, and have respect for the customer”.

Danny says supermarkets are “too dear” whereas markets are “cheap and fresh”. “We buy yesterday, we sell it today; the supermarkets store it for one week. Also I buy, I sell. No middle man.”

This story Administrator ready to work first appeared on Nanjing Night Net.

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