Alberto and Christina Iamartino opened Great West Italian Importers 1958. Their first location was purchased by the City of Calgary as it extended Crowchild Trail over the Bow River. They relocated to a bigger warehouse and storefront in Inglewood, just across the river from the Italian neighbourhood of Bridgeland. At the same time the Iamartinos started a family and as the business grew, the kids became an integral part of the overall operations.
Sera, one of Iamartino’s children would help stock the store shelves. Her parents didn’t speak English very well so she also did most of the paperwork. They started selling their product into Safeway, and Sera would go to these stores filling and stocking shelves.
Today, Sera, her husband Mike, Sera’s sister Sue and Sue’s husband Giovanni own and operate Great West Italian Importers, an umbrella company with two divisions. These divisions include The Italian Store; the retail end of this family-owned food business, and Scarpone’s Quality Italian Foods; importer of products from all over the world.
In 2001 The Italian Store opened a cappuccino bar and cafe. It has a seating area for about 50 people, provides hot lunches, espresso and homemade gelato. Platters, trays and catering orders are a big part of the stores business.
The deli offers a wide selection of local and imported meats and cheese including a delicious assortment of antipasti.
Rows of pasta, juice for winemaking, winemaking supplies, dry goods, fresh bread daily, a small produce section, coffees and pots, san marzano tomatoes, and small kitchen equipment are just a few of the items that make up The Italian Store.
The Italian Store is open Monday – Saturday, 9 – 5pm.