Fredonia Businesses React To ConAgra Announcement

FREDONIA – Emotions continue to run high in the local community following the announcement by ConAgra that it would be closing its plants in Dunkirk and Fredonia.

Several local businesses offered their thoughts on the effect this closing will have on their businesses and the community in general.

Finishing Touch Barber-Beauty

Assistant Christopher Newsom offered his condolences to those who will soon be out of a job.

“I have a few friends who worked there so I think it is horrible,” he said. “It is really sad this happened.”

Newsom believes this will affect his business.

“We are nervous about it, but we are trying to keep our hopes up,” he said.

“This is terrible for our business; not just ours,” barber Colton Farnham agreed. “The town can’t get any lower.”

“One out of 20 people (customers) knows someone who works there,” Farnham continued. “The Carriage House was like our steel plant; can’t believe (it will be) gone.”

Newsom added the worst part of the factory closing is there is no other place to work for a similar wage in the area.

“I can’t believe how much this town has gone through,” he said. “It is really awful. A lot of people are going to be out of work.”

There is a sense of family loss in the community due to the closing of Carriage House. Several generations of workers have lost their legacy and home.

Gentleman Jack’s Inc. East Main Liquors

Owners Jim and Tracy Schulenberg both feel bad about the closing of Carriage House.

“There are no jobs around here,” Jim said. “The bottle place is going to lose half their people as well; they did a lot of work with the Carriage House.”

“We get people all the time looking for work and we don’t have any,” Tracy said. “If they came and took my job I wouldn’t move to Kentucky.”

“They try to go to other big businesses,” she continued. “You have half of Silver Creek still looking for a job.”

Tracy used to work at Carriage House long ago and she said there are a lot of people who started working there right after they got out of school.

“I think it is sad and people will leave,” she said.

Jim’s Dry Cleaners

Customer Service Representative Debbie Pacos was born and raised in Fredonia.

“I used to walk by there everyday to go to school,” she said. “This has killed the community; what is left of it.”

Pacos added there is nothing left for the young people to stay for.

“People want to work where dad worked and that is now a pipe dream,” she said. “It is sad because this is a nice place to raise young kids.”

“People are walking around like a bomb went off; they don’t know how to pick up the pieces,” she continued. “A bomb has gone off in the community and no one knows what to do.”

Pacos pointed out this closure will affect everyone from the beginning of Chautauqua County to the end.

“There were a lot of little legs extended from Carriage House,” she said. “Now it is like getting your legs cut out from under you.”

Pacos nostalgically pointed out what Carriage House meant to her personally.

“They use to have carts overflowing with homegrown tomatoes that came in big trucks,” she said. “When I smelled the tomatoes I knew school was about to start.

“It will really hit hard when everything is gone and there is an empty building sitting there.”

DeJohns Italian Spaghetti House

General Manager Lisa Mancuso said this is going to really hurt their business.

“This is very devastating to Dunkirk and Fredonia,” she said. “We had deliveries there and truckers would come here for lunch. Carriage House was a big part of our town.”

BJ’s

Bartender Brian McPike said although a lot of people from Carriage House come into his business he isn’t thinking about that right now.

“I know people there now are wondering how they will support their family,” he said. “They have no job now; just woke up and poof it was gone.”

P*Dubs Pizza Wings and Things

Manager Kate Rosario knows this is going to effect the whole community; not just restaurants.

“Local businesses use restaurants for their breaks,” she said. “This will affect us tremendously. I have loved ones affected by this. Some people have both parents who worked there and now don’t have a job.”

Rosario talked about how sad everyone is that Carriage House is closing.

“They are very upset about it closing,” she said. “How do you start over when you have established 30-plus years at a place; how can someone in their 50s or 60s start over?”

Rosario hopes that since one door is closing another will open for the more than 400 employees out of work.