Home sweet home

“Home sweet home” is what many people say after coming home from a trip or a long day of work. Home is the place where you can relax, put your feet up, take a nap, and enjoy being with family and friends. Home is most people’s favorite place to be.

Some time and effort in choosing colors, furniture, bedding and other accessories helps to create this welcoming and comfortable environment. Those searching for pieces that will last a long time need to look no further than Fredonia’s downtown.

In “yesterdays” times, both Dunkirk and Fredonia were full of stores along Central Avenue and Main Street. Many decorative store fronts advertised a variety of goods.

Sadly, as stated in my column last week, most of these stores have disappeared over the years and given way to large retail “box” companies.

Fortunately, there are a few local businesses left which help to keep downtown alive. Fredonia Pro Hardware has the nuts and bolts, but Pucci’s Carpet One Furniture & Bedding has those classic and comfortable pieces for your home. They offer the same “slice of Americana,” where shoppers experience personal service from a local and family-run business.

Quick to say hello and help, those in the Pucci family are not the first ones to own the parcel of property at 112 Main St. where the business now stands. A look through their record book of deeds and titles revealed a long and interesting history reaching far back into Fredonia’s earlier days.

The Pucci property goes back to Hezekia Barker, a well-known pioneer of Fredonia. Records showed he purchased it from the Holland Land Company in 1812 in several parceled out pieces. In 1826, Gilbert Douglass purchased it for $125, and by 1841 Sayles Theft obtained it for $227. A man named Elnathan Darling owned it in 1847. By the 1860s, the familiar name of Wiley appears when James Wiley had the property. It is logical to surmise that the Wiley Creek, running behind the property, was probably named after this family. Several by the same surname appear in the record book until 1901 when Henry Card purchased a portion of the site, Parcel A, for $500.

Care for a bottle of “Grape Ola” ginger ale? An advertisement from 1920 claims it is “Delicious, Healthful, and Ready to Drink.” The Grape Ola Products Corporation with its factory in Fredonia then appears in the record book in 1919. Also offering such beverages as Sparklet and unfermented Grape Juice, they appeared to have declared bankruptcy in 1921. However, Henry Card was the highest bidder and with Reuben Wright took over that portion of the property and by 1926 created the “Henry Card Company, Inc.” In 1932, “The Welch Grape Juice Company” and “United Grape Products” appear. In the later 1930’s, “The Good Seed Company” operated a business until 1945 when it became “Mitchell Foods, Inc.” Finally, in 1981, the property was purchased by its current owners, Ronald and Michelene Pucci.

The Pucci business did not grow overnight, but rather expanded through perseverance from simple beginnings. Ron Pucci bought a house when he was only 18 years old. He gradually obtained more rental properties and then a delicatessen at the top of West Main Street with his father. He fortuitously stumbled upon his next business venture when he needed to carpet the upstairs rental property. At the time he was still working at Allegheny Ludlum Steel in Dunkirk. To save money, he used his tax ID number from the deli to buy the carpet wholesale. Part of the deal meant he had to purchase carpet samples, which he later tossed near the meat counter as he hurried out the door one day.

As related on the business’ website to his surprise, “Over the next couple of days customers would come in and question about the samples. Over the period of the next week, Ron started selling more carpet than lunch meat!”

In American entrepreneurial spirit, Pucci’s World of Carpet was born in 1972 and located on lower Main Street. With hard work, the business expanded and was moved to 112 West Main several years later. The spacious but old warehouse that was once a juice and seed facility was gradually renovated, including a huge basement that had a dirt floor and still has layered stone walls. For quite some time, Pucci’s, in its third generation, has offered the community a diverse line of products that includes furniture and bedding. Not a cookie-cutter chain, they have the freedom to offer a wide range of goods, even custom order and commercial at affordable prices. People can “feel and touch” before they make a purchase at a convenient hometown store with the “Home Sweet Home” atmosphere.

A vibrant “Main Street” America with many locally and family owned businesses was once the norm. Fortunately, Fredonia still has a community of independent business people alongside other businesses in the village. Where else but at an old time business could you chit-chat with the owner and reminisce about the old days? How fun it was that Mickey Pucci shared her remembrance of hearing radio advertisements many years ago of “Burns Coal Burns,” my grandfather’s Dunkirk business in the days of old fashioned lumber yards and heating homes with coal.

Mark your calendars for August 16-17 to enjoy the “Second Annual Battle of Lighthouse Point” at the Historic Dunkirk Lighthouse. The grounds will be transformed into a Civil War and 1860’s camp with many demonstrations and vendors. Make it a good week and buy local.

Mary Burns Deas writes weekly for the OBSERVER. Direct comments to lifestyles@observertoday.com