BOARDMAN, Ohio (WKBN) – After nearly 75 years in business, the Gorant candy factory in Boardman is no longer making chocolates. Operators of two local franchise stores say they’ve been hearing rumors for months but nothing concrete.
“To wake up this morning to find that there was a press release that was issued completely took us by surprise,” said Ed Ridenbaugh, executive vice president of sales and marketing at Gorant Candies of Warren.
The press release issued late Tuesday night stated that Gorant Chocolates stopped production at its Market Street factory during a pending ongoing sale to new ownership. It suggests that the flagship store in Boardman will remain open and the locations in Howland and Austintown will be transitioned off to “private individual brands.”
“It’s absolutely false misinformation because there’s been absolutely no conversation in any way, shape or form,” Ridenbaugh said.
“How are they even predicting what we’re going to become or what we’re going to do?” asked Lori Gavalier, owner of Gorant Chocolatier in Austintown.
Gavalier said she has never even met the company’s new investors and rarely hears from current ownership.
“I would have expected mutual respect and some collaboration, and I know the Howland store is in the same position,” Gavalier said.
WKBN reached out several times to Gorant’s corporate offices since receiving their news release Tuesday night but never heard back. The company’s news release included a statement from Joe Miller, one of the current owners, that read the following:
“While the sale is still pending, I am confident that the new, local owners will enhance the quality and traditions behind the Gorant brand. This new team already has a strong commitment and track record in the Mahoning Valley.”
Although the company’s press release indicates a sale to new owners has not been finalized, Ridenbaugh said his shop has been using its own chocolate supplier for the last 13 years.
“And those lines of chocolates are formulated and produced with the original chocolate that Gorant Candies was founded upon in 1949,” he said.
For now, both Ridenbaugh and Gavalier insist they will still be in business long after the Gorant sale is complete.
“We have every intention of continuing to offer the original Gorant candies we have all grown to love over the years. We hope to smoothly transition with the new owners,” Gavalier said in a statement released Wednesday evening. “We appreciate your continued support and unwavering loyalty during this transition period. We are excited to continue delivering the finest of products to the Valley.”
Gorant Chocolates was started by Charles and Sam Gorant in 1949. The factory location at 8301 Market Street was built and opened in 1977.
In 1982, Sam Gorant passed away. Four years later, Charles Gorant sold the company. Charles has since passed away.