My Wyndham: Frances Leone’s connection to Werribee goes back generations

Frances Leone’s connection to Werribee goes back generations. Her family has been in town for almost 100 years and her boutique has been operating on Watton Street for half that time.

She speaks with Adem Saban.

How long have you been in Werribee?

Well, I was born here. My grandparents first came to Werribee in the mid-1920s from southern Italy, a little place called Vizzini.

What about the town has changed in your lifetime?

There is massive growth. Obviously, culturally it has changed – there’s a large influx of people from all over the world. A lot of residential developments have occurred.

How long has Francine Shoe Boutique been here?

Almost 50 years here on Watton Street. My mother started this business herself, and I took over when she passed away eight years ago. Growing up, I used to help mum. I’d come in from school and give her a hand on weekends. When I got married 35 years ago, I operated my own clothing boutique – Boutique 24 – across the road from Francine.

Then we had two children, and I sold the business and worked here with mum.

We sell quality ladies shoes, clothing, accessories.

How has the business stayed afloat for five decades?

Our strong clientele and loyal customers. We still have our customers on Watton Street who appreciate traditional, caring service.

There is no alternative for us. I have been asked by customers if I’d ever move to the plaza [Pacific Werribee] – and I have no desire to. I want to maintain this long, historical connection to Werribee.

Why are you still in Werribee three generations later?

I don’t think there’s any advantage to living anywhere else. When you look at Werribee, it’s closely located to the city, it offers country-style living opportunities, and you’re half-way to the major beachside suburbs. There’s good shopping, great cafes.

When you’re not working in the shop, where do you go and how do you spend your spare time?

I like catching up with family and friends, and love entertaining and going out.