CROGHAN — Two of Lewis County’s most popular family-owned businesses were recognized by their state senator with the highest honor granted to businesses by the Senate.
Sen. Joseph Griffo, R-Rome, visited the Croghan Meat Market and Good Ol’ Wishy’s Ice Cream Shop to present New York State Senate Empire Awards to each business “in recognition of outstanding contributions, dedication to the growth and prosperity of the community and the state of New York.”
Blaine Campany, owner of the Croghan Meat Market, 9824 Main St., who is the fourth generation in her family to own the Croghan Meat Market, received the award from Sen. Griffo.
Her great-great grandfather took over the business from its founder, Fred Hunziker, in 1919.
“It’s not only a tasty place to be, it’s a family business that has done a lot to contribute to the community too,” Sen. Griffo said after the awards presentation.
The senator said that while he is a “purist” when it comes to eating the store’s iconic Croghan Bologna “straight up, like a shot,” he also appreciates some of the new spicy variations Ms. Campany has launched.
”With family-owned businesses and younger family members taking over, new ideas are important. You have a product and you just continue to improve on it. That’s the key to me,” Sen. Griffo said, “These are the ingredients, no pun intended, for success.”
Ms. Campany said that competing with bigger companies using the same regulations can be very challenging, citing the length of time it can take to get approval on new product labels as an example: she has been waiting over two months for approval on the label for the latest product she is waiting to release.
Owner of Good Ol’ Wishy’s, 9779 State Route 812, Charlotte Schweitzer, credited the support of the community and the ability to adapt as the keys for their small, seasonal business’s ability to survive for what will be 25 years in 2020.
“Our community is so supportive it keeps us going. They are excited to be here and be a part of it and are dedicated to helping us stay here and stay active as long as we can,” Mrs. Schweitzer said. “In the winter, we do ice cream sundae events where we invite the community in and we have music and sharing, just to try to change up and fit what’s happening weather-wise.”
Good Ol’ Wishy’s was originally a drug store built in 1912 by Alowishas VerSchneider, the business’s namesake. A soda fountain was added to the store in the 1940s and in 1995, Good Ol’ Wishy’s was opened by Mrs. Schweitzer and her family.
Although Mrs. Schweitzer said she is not a “blood-relative” of the VerSchneiders, they feel like family.
Mr. VerSchneider’s son, Michael VerSchneider, and his wife Karen attended the event and told the senator stories of how his father got started as a druggist and eventually made his own ice cream after Sen. Griffo learned how to scoop for a root beer float.
“I think we have to do a lot more in New York to try to be more business-friendly, to understand the challenges that many of our small businesses are facing,” Sen. Griffo said, noting tax reduction, lowering energy costs and deregulating as some avenues to accomplish that goal.
He said that the awards are one of the many ways he and his fellow senators can reach out and acknowledge businesses in their district and get the perspectives of local business owners.