Charleston-based business up for sale after nearly 70 years
CHARLESTON, WV (WCHS/WVAH) —
A Charleston-grown business is up for sale after nearly 70 years.
In the past five years, the owner of Gunnoe Farms said the economic decline in the area, along with natural disasters, has taken a huge toll on the business. She said she knew at some point she would have to make a difficult decision.
The Gunnoe Farms company in Charleston makes a variety of salads. Kroger will no longer carry a few of Gunnoe's salad products. However, Gunnoe's Sausage Company Inc., based in Virginia is unaffected by this change and will continue their line of sausage and other products in Kroger stores.
Gunnoe’s is more than just a family name for Joy Gunnoe, the president of Gunnoe Farms.
"The logo is actually my older brother; he was a red head like that,” Gunnoe said.
Gunnoe said she grew up watching her father run the family business.
"My father told me years ago, when you put your last name one a product it better be the best you can make,” Gunnoe said.
Joy eventually took over as the company’s president, but after nearly 70 years of growth and success, she received the devastating news that Kroger would no longer be carrying some of Gunnoe’s best-selling products.
"The business climate in WV is such that if you lose any sales at all at this point, it impacts everything,” Gunnoe said.
She said the company took a hit in 2012 when they lost most of their products after the derecho. In 2013, the water crisis made it impossible to produce many of their products. Last year, when floods devastated the state, many grocery stores that carried Gunnoe’s products were forced to close.
Now, with the loss of Kroger’s support, the company announced Saturday on Facebook that it is up for sale.
"I was shocked when I read their Facebook post, and in fact, I commented on it, you know we can't lose anymore Charleston-based businesses, first of all, but one that's so beloved like Gunnoe's is absolutely incredible,” shopper Adam Knauff said.
"It's hard for small companies to survive against big corporations but if I can support them I will,” shopper John Lilly said.
Both Knauff and Lilly said they have been buying Gunnoe’s products for years and will shop at the stores that will continue some of their items.
"It is Charleston owned and I trust that, and secondly it is the best quality, I do prefer it over anywhere else and thirdly I'm not going to buy some off brand ham salad or potato salad, Gunnoe's is the only brand that my family trusts."
While Joy does hope to sell the company, she plans to keep living by her father’s words.
"All I want to do is make sure that my father's 80-100 hour weeks that he put in until he was 79-years-old building this product up and making these products and selling this product to be forgotten."
Joy said the responses she has received on the company’s Facebook page were overwhelming and encouraging and she hopes to keep those customers’ support even in with the company’s unclear future.
Gunnoe's turns 70 this fall.