21 February 2023

Riverina Rewind: Fruit and milkshakes with a smile at Sam Scollo's store

| Michelle Maddison
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Sam Scollo

Salvatore ”Sam” Scollo’s smiling face was familiar to many Wagga moviegoers who stopped in for a milkshake. Photo: Museum of the Riverina.

Today, the Museum of the Riverina takes us back into the world of the old-fashioned milk bar and greengrocer.

Salvatore ”Sam” Scollo (1904-2005) emigrated to Australia from Catania in Sicily in 1926, settling first in Melbourne before moving to Wagga in the early 1930s.

Sam arrived in Wagga with nothing but two shillings, a horse and cart, and a dog.

Shortly after arriving, Sam opened a little fruit shop in Gurwood Street, sleeping on the shop floor because he couldn’t afford to pay for both the shop rent and separate accommodation.

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As his business took off, Sam moved next door to 35A Gurwood Street, which was not only a larger premises but included a dwelling out the back.

Sam ran his business there for the next 60 years, joined along the way by his wife Giovanna and their three daughters, Santina, Maria and Josie.

Sam’s business, The Leeton Fruit Exchange, was directly opposite the Capitol Theatre.

Sam was a dedicated small-business owner and worked long hours. Sunday was the only half day the family had off from the shop, and it remained open until after the late-night movies had finished at the Capitol.

Until the theatre’s closure in 1965, Sam and Giovanna kept their shop open until 8 pm.

During World War II, Sam was not interned like many fellow Italians; rather, the local Australian Army used him as an interpreter.

By all accounts, the best milkshakes in town came from Sam’s shop, and many theatre-goers enjoyed popping across the road during intermission to enjoy his drinks and chocolates.


Sam Scollo’s legacy lives on with his name on the facade of his old Gurwood Street store. Photo: Chris Roe.

Sam retired in 1989 at the age of 85, handing over the reins of the business to his granddaughter Therese Vivian, who renamed the shop Sam Scollo’s Takeaway.

He died in July 2005 at the ripe old age of 101.

The building was sold in 2006, but even today, the facade bears the name of the gentleman who is still remembered for his beaming smile.

Do you remember Sam and his store? We’d love to hear your memories.

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Wayne Carter9:48 pm 14 Feb 24

Not only could you get a wickedly tasty milkshake at Sam’s, his icy cold fruit juice drinks made in-house were exceptional. No additives just fresh fruit & plenty of it.

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