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July 21, 2024
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Rosso’s Furniture passes the torch

Family business continues under next generation

Sarah Rosso grew up in her family’s furniture business, starting off as a receptionist 27 years ago as a high schooler who did a lot of what she called the “grunt work.”

She took every opportunity she had to learn the ins and outs of the business, shadowing her father Jaime and uncle Anthony, who opened the store in Gilroy in 1978. She also spent time with the other managers, including Mary Aguire, who Rosso said was a major inspiration for her.

Working her way up at Rosso’s Furniture, Rosso said she always had a goal in mind.

“Since I was a little girl, I dreamed of becoming the owner one day,” she said. “But did I really believe it would happen?”

That dream has now come true.

Rosso and her business partner Melissa O’Malley recently took over ownership from Jaime and Anthony Rosso, who passed the torch on to the next generation after 45 years.

“It’s an honor, and I’m thankful for the opportunity,” Rosso said. “This is a big animal to swallow. We’re excited to learn as we go. There’s always going to be those little bumps, but I call them opportunities for growth.”

Rosso’s Furniture has two locations: 6881 Monterey Road in Gilroy and 212 Tennant Ave. in Morgan Hill. The stores offer furniture, mattresses and other home decor, while employing more than 50 furniture professionals and interior designers.

The stores are also nearing the end of a major sale to commemorate Jaime’s and Anthony’s retirement.

The Rossos entered the furniture industry quite unexpectedly, the family recounts. In the 1960s, Jaime Rosso Sr., while running a jewelry store in San Bernardino, ordered a couch for his home. That couch, however, was delivered outside of his store, and was too large to fit in the building, so it stayed outside.

Customers inquired if the couch was for sale, and after rejecting offers, Rosso Sr. eventually sold it. He later sold more couches, and ended up shutting down the jewelry store and opening Rosso’s Furniture.

When Jaime Rosso Jr. and his wife Evelia moved to Gilroy, he noticed a lack of home furnishing stores in the area. Jaime Jr. and Anthony followed in their father’s footsteps by opening their own Rosso’s Furniture on First Street in Gilroy in 1978.

The Rosso brothers are known for being active members in their community, volunteering, sponsoring, donating and advocating for schools, teachers and students alike, and that is something Sarah Rosso said will continue with the new ownership of the business.

“Giving back is a big part of who we are,” she said.

Sarah Rosso studied interior design, business and communications at San Jose State University, having already gained real-world experience from working in her family’s store.

When her father and uncle began talking about retirement, Rosso said she put together a proposal for taking over the business. It was during this time when O’Malley, who has worked with the Rossos and other furniture retailers, approached Rosso about partnering in the endeavor.

“The stars were aligning,” Rosso said. “She’s had extensive knowledge and experience in the furniture industry herself. Between her and I, we both bring something to the table. We both complement each other.”

The co-owners are now preparing for what Rosso refers to as “the new birth of Rosso’s,” by implementing a number of new ideas. Among those, the business plans to launch a new website soon to bolster its e-commerce presence.

Rosso said the business’ customer base stretches from south San Jose to Monterey County, as well as Santa Cruz and San Benito counties.

“The customer experience is everything to us,” she said. “We want them to feel welcome from the moment they walk through the door to delivery.”

It’s all part of the culture that was championed by the business’ founders, Rosso noted.

“I highly respect them for working so hard to build their business,” she said. “They deserve their retirement. They deserve to enjoy the fruits of their life. They worked really hard and now they need time for themselves.”

Erik Chalhoub
Erik Chalhoub
Erik Chalhoub joined Weeklys as an editor in 2019. Prior to his current position, Chalhoub worked at The Pajaronian in Watsonville for seven years, serving as managing editor from 2014-2019.

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