WHEN TONY FERRETTI was offered a redundancy due to the COVID pandemic after a 25-year career with Qantas, he decided to put a long-held dream into action.

Rosa, who has previously owned retail and management businesses, brought a swag of business acumen to the table.

Both brought a lifetime of customer service expertise and a love for the Sunshine Coast community they have each made their home.

In what is becoming a familiar narrative, COVID and its aftermath provided the opportunity they’d been waiting for; the friends became business partners two years ago when they bought Maleny Additions, a gift and clothing destination specialising in unique, high-quality gifts and clothing in the charming hinterland town of Maleny.

Emerging from the clouds that often cover the top of the Blackall Range with a misty cloak, Maleny is famous for its milk, its platypuses, a laid-back vibe, an evergreen landscape and an eclectic population.

It’s also a popular destination for interstate and international tourists eager to see what the fuss is about.

One of the biggest drawcards is the main street itself,  where you can find upmarket homewares and clothing stores,  op shops, delectable handmade sweets, art galleries, excellent bookshops, and an array of cafés in which to while away the time while breathing in the distinctively fresh mountain air.

It’s also here, in the heart of the action, where Maleny Additions can be found.

In fact, the store has been part of the town’s streetscape for the past 12 years and has become a much-loved member of the local retail community.

So much so, in fact, that when Rosa and Tony took over the business, the previous owners held an evening to thank their loyal customers and to introduce the newcomers to  the community.

“It’s been really lovely that they did that because all of the customers love the shop and they were really concerned about what we were going to do with it,” Tony says.

However, locals need not have worried.

Tony explains that those original owners had created a strong following by sourcing high-quality brands, a tradition that he and Rosa are proudly continuing.

They are also building their online offering and constantly on the lookout for new brands that fit the ethos of the store.

“Our motivation for buying the particular business that is Maleny Additions was the fact that Rosa knew it quite well as she had shopped there often, and the fact that we would inherit the beautiful brands that were sourced and curated by the ladies [who had established the business].

“We really do look for quality items; what we’re trying to do is make sure we have our firm brands that you can rely on all the time, but we are constantly sourcing new items as well so that the locals have a lot to choose from and are not just coming in and seeing the same things.”

Some of the well-loved brands on offer include Muse, a clothing label specialising in linen and other natural fibres, designed and tailored in Brisbane; Esperance & Co, a range of responsibly sourced pure Alashan cashmere garments that feel like silk; and Regn, a collection of stylish rainwear sourced from Denmark.

There’s babywear from the Australian Wilson and Frenchy range, which features whimsical designs on natural and organic fabrics; sleek, German-made Lamy pens; and a range of men’s gifts, fragrances, games and homewares.

“We like to think we have something for everyone,” says Tony. “There’s electronics, we have a range of women’s clothes, we have homewares, candles, perfumes, and we have a gardening section.

“We love beautiful quality products, and once people buy them, they often come back in to buy them as gifts for friends and family.”

Tony and Rosa both grew up in Brisbane,and while not strictly related, their childhoods were one and the same.

“We call ourselves cousins because it’s a lot easier, even though we’re not,” says Tony.

“We do share a cousin in common, so Rosa’s parents were my godparents and vice versa.

“I grew up with Rosa and her sister and brother, so our families have always been very close; she’s always been like that big sister.”

Although they may both be Brisbane-born and raised, they are both now firmly established as Sunshine Coast locals.

“Prior to going into Qantas, I was a teacher, and my first posting was Kawana, so that’s why I’ve had this gravitational pull back towards the coast,” Tony explains.

“Rosa and her husband moved up from Brisbane about 18 years ago, and they had a business in Caloundra, managing an apartment complex.”

Tony and Rosa treasure the hinterland community they work in, which has continued to embrace their business wholeheartedly, along with a burgeoning cohort of interstate and international tourists who are drawn to Maleny’s unique charms.

“We’re very lucky in that sense that we have great support from the people of Maleny and also the surrounding towns, but it’s also become a real tourist destination.

“We get everyone, from lots of Victorians and people from New South Wales.

“But what’s really lovely, especially this year, is to see a lot more international people coming from as far as Canada, the UK, Italy and France.”

And luckily, the duo’s longstanding friendship remains firmly intact – not always an easy task for a seven-day-a-week operation – thanks to a lot of mutual respect and some clever scheduling.

“We do week-on, week-off, and normally we are there together on Saturdays,” Tony says.

“It gives us a really good work-life balance. We talk daily and sound off each other about what’s come in and what we need to order.

“I wouldn’t have done this by myself, and I couldn’t have picked a better business partner; because we’ve known each other for such a long time, we know each other’s work ethic.

“It’s great that Rosa has the business experience, and we both have a strong customer service focus.”