Tosi & Company Food Importers was started by Piedmonte-born Peter Tosi. The original business, which opend in 1906, was located on Union Street where Peter Tosi had first opened a butcher shop. With his business expanding Mr. Tosi bought the 6000-square-foot Main Street store, which was once part of Woodwards department store. Angelo Tosi the current proprietor, took over the family business in 1973, after his father Peter Tosi who worked until he passed away at 89.
A Rich Part of Vancouver’s Italian History
The store, which was built in the late 1800s has had a long and rich history. The two-story building is the only remaining structure of the original Woodwards store. The Tosi & Company is 111 years old and was passed down to Angelo Tosi from his father, Peter Tosi. Angelo likes to remind his new customers that a long time ago, Little Italy used to exist in the area and Chinatown only spanned one block on Pender Street. He enjoys reminiscing about the past, telling customers and the curious that the area used to be full of Italian shops and businesses. His mother would sometimes sit in a chair outside the shop and converse with customers.
Family Run Since 1906
Between 1930-1960 the Portuguese and Chinese arrived and bought most of the houses in the area. Many Italians rebuilt better homes and moved over to Commercial Drive. Today he tells us more Italian shops are located around Nanaimo Street at East Hastings. As Chinatown began to grow, he remembers it being extraordinarily beautiful, and recalls such things as people smoking water pipes amongst all of the fresh produce they were selling.