Teresa Spinelli: Owner, The Italian Centre Shop

Teresa Spinelli wasn’t supposed to be one of Edmonton’s most successful entrepreneurs and community advocates. She was supposed to get married and have babies. But when her father Frank Spinelli, founder of the Italian Centre Shop’s family of business passed away in 2000, she took over the business. After years of fighting comments like ‘your dad didn’t do it that way’, Teresa’s warmth and business savvy has helped her build a management team that has grown her dad’s legacy from a single store and wholesaler, to three locations, a major importer and distributor of Italian and European goods and a restaurant, Massimo’s Cucinca Italiana.

Her success is due to her insistence that the stores are an experience. You walk in and you feel like you’re in Italy. The stores are a place to feel like you are back home, or to discover new foods, friends, and in some cases even spouses. That’s the degree to which a community feel inspires the Italian Centre Shop. It is a meeting place, rather than a store.

Teresa’s business philosophy comes from her dad, “The more you give, the more you get,” and to this day the children of immigrants helped by Teresa’s father remember his generosity. They now shop at her stores.

Teresa knows all her 270 staff by name (and often their mums’, dads’ and kids’ names too). Her passion is revitalizing the McCauley community around Little Italy in Edmonton’s downtown and charity work that provides healthy lunches to kids that need them. For Teresa, it’s all about people and showing them you love them with a hearty, bountiful meal.

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