Market stand businesses are particularly popular among Amish in Lancaster County.
Amish owners are often able to earn enough during three days on-site, typically Thursday to Saturday, to make a decent living.
Established Pennsylvania Dutch markets can be found within neighboring metropolitan areas such as Philadelphia, Baltimore, and Washington, DC.
Other markets have appeared in recent years in less-populated areas. The Markets at Shrewsbury, located in southern York County, is an example of a newer market located in a growing area.
Shrewsbury offers a mix of Amish and non-Amish stands andincludes a bakery, furniture store, and food stands. Other markets, such as those outside Princeton, New Jersey, and at Newtown north of Philly, offer similar arrangements.
One Amish stand owner says that in the dampened economic climate, markets offer entrepreneurial Amish a more attractive entry into business ownership.
Since people continue to eat during downturns, but may decide to put off the bedroom suite purchase, Lancaster Amish have been more likely to pursue such businesses recently rather than starting up furniture operations, for example.
Reading Terminal Market, downtown Philadelphia
Drawbacks of market work include commute time–sometimes up to 2 hours. Days for one owner start with a 430 am pickup and a return as late as 9pm. Some market operators may even stay overnight.
Another possible drawback is the non-Plain setting of markets, with the vast bulk of clientele being non-Amish.
In this way markets for Lancaster Amish may share a resemblance with the RV industry in northern Indiana, where Amish males put in 40 hour weeks in the foreign setting of factories to be able to maintain traditional Amish lives the rest of the time.
However, just as Amish factory workers enjoy one another’s company on the job, the same can be the case at the typical market, which often houses a half-dozen or more Amish-operated stands.
Near Princeton, New Jersey
Besides the attraction of quality foods and products, much of the appeal of market stands lies in the chance for urbanites to get their hands on a bona fide chunk of ‘Amishness’.
By operating market stands, Amish owners are transporting a piece of Plain charm into the urban setting for city dwellers to access, all without leaving the metropolitan vicinity.
And by operating such stands in person, they lend greater authenticity and novelty to the transaction.
By their presence and interaction with customers, Amish stand operators essentially transform what would otherwise be a normally banal lunchmeat purchase into an experience.