After 40 years, the Renatos are set to retire

By Holly Tregenza

Shepparton icons Josie and Sam Renato have been selling flowers at their Wyndham St store for decades.

However, they will soon have time to stop and smell the roses.

The pair have put their beloved business of almost 40 years on the market.

And they are hoping someone who will pour as much love into the shop as they have will take up the floral scissors.

Inside, as stems are plucked and laughter bounces off the walls, the pride they have for their store is on full display.

There is teddies to arrange, flowers to cut and customers – many of them third generation – to talk to.

This is how the Renatos have spent their weeks, weekends, holidays and almost every day in between for most of their adult life.

For the first 22 years in operation, they worked seven days a week – and raised four boys.

And they would not have it any other way.

“I can’t believe it’s almost been 40 years, it really has gone so fast,” Sam said.

“We’ve enjoyed every minute of it.”

The shop first swung open its doors in April 1981, and started out life as an indoor plant store.

But flowers were the thing that kept customers coming back and in 1990 after a big renovation, the Renato’s of today was born.

Sam and Josie have since seen generations of families pass through their doors.

“We have done flowers for people’s weddings, and then done flowers for their first baby,” Sam said.

“People come for flowers for the happiest celebrations and the saddest and we’re here for all of it.

“I think all retailers end up being kind of therapists and we are the same.”

Florist Josie Renato and her husband Sam are selling up shop after 40 wonderful years in the flower business.

It is that warmth that has made them a loved and iconic name, and a beacon of generosity.

Renato’s has been involved with Daffodil Day for 30 years.

“The first year we donated 200 daffodils and eventually it just grew and grew until we were donating as many as 16,000. That got pretty busy,” Sam said.

“Raising money for the Cancer Council has definitely been a real highlight.”

Neither Sam or Josie are keen on making a big fuss of their charity work, but their touch can be seen across Shepparton.

Like the flowers they have donated every week for more than three decades to Goulburn Valley Health.

And that level of care extends to the quality of their flowers and gifts.

“With the teddies and the flowers we only have the very best quality, the very freshest,” Josie said.

“That teddy might be going to a sick child, it could be going to a newborn baby. Those flowers are celebrating something or comforting someone.

“When you buy flowers, you are buying an emotion. So they have to beautiful.”

The Renatos themselves have certainly had their fair share of good and bad days.

One Sam remembered fondly was the time they single-handedly created a massive traffic jam on Wyndham St.

“When we were selling indoor plants we used to have this huge sale once a year that we called the ‘out the back of the truck’ sale,” Sam said with a laugh.

“One time we had one and I walked outside to see this huge traffic jam from people trying to get to the sale, and I just thought, ‘what have we done?'"

And Valentine’s Day is always a crazy time at Renato’s, with staff numbers jumping to 15 to cope with demand.

“Everyone always wants red roses, but its always around 35 or 40 degrees, so it’s a battle to keep them fresh,” Josie said.

It is no surprise that the busy times are also some of their best.

For many, husband and wife teams working and living together, as well as raising a family, might sound daunting.

But Josie and Sam are the ultimate duo.

“We've been too busy to fight,” Josie said.

“And we always made sure that when we go home as a family, we don't talk shop.

“Sam looks after the front and I look after the back. You make it work.”

For the two people who have not slowed down for four decades, retirement sounds like a nice change of pace.

But a green thumb is for life and flowers will never be far away.

“We’re looking forward to finally getting our garden under control,” Josie said.

“And we really want to travel, particularly to Italy to see where our parents grew up.”

If you are interested in taking on this beloved Shepparton business, phone Peter Cardamone on 0419 204 608.