OAKDALE -- Written in chalk, the sign in front of her shop reads: "Sconza candy sold here. Bye, Bye, Hershey!"
Oakdale Nutrition Center owner Lori Salsa-Scheftic isn't bitter about the Hershey Co. spurning Oakdale for Mexico over the past year. She's just eager to move on, she said.
"I know Hershey leaving has had an effect on the community," Salsa-Scheftic said. "I think it's wonderful we have a California-based company moving into the facility."
Since Sconza Candy Co. announced in March that it would be relocating its operation from Oakland to Oakdale, the city has demonstrated that small-town hospitality still exists.
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"We've been overwhelmed with calls and letters with good wishes from people," said Janet Sconza Angers, vice president of customer relations.
It's a change from Oakland, where the third-generation family business has become a fixture.
"We're in an urban area and have been forever. I think it's easy to forget small-town America is different from urban America," Sconza Angers said.
Sconza Angers said folks' excitement is partly because Oakdale will be able to keep its tradition of chocolate- and candy-making alive. That was so- lidified Friday, when escrow closed on Hershey's former 615,000-square-foot factory.
Sconza is preparing for the move to Oakdale, which eventually may include family members. Production is expected to start in October.
The company employs 100 to 130 people, some of whom will move to Oakdale as well. How many is unknown. Sconza has hired some former Hershey employees and plans to hold a career fair this summer.
Until then, businesses eager to make Sconza a part of the community have started carrying Sconza products.
"We just got a shipment in today," said Bill O'Brien, vice president of Riverbank-based O'Brien's Markets. "We decided to carry the brand because now they're in our community, and I try to support as many local products as I can."
O'Brien's is carrying Sconza's gourmet line, which also is available at the Oakdale Nutrition Center. O'Brien's also is carrying Sconza's yogurt pretzels, Boston baked beans and giant jaw breakers.
"This is a very proud community," Salsa-Scheftic said, straightening the rows of organic chocolate-covered fruits and nuts prominently displayed in her store. "We want to support each other."
Bee staff writer Eve Hightower can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org or 578-2382.