I picked up a copy of the 2011 Lancaster County Business Directory on my recent visit to Pennsylvania.  If you want to find a business in Lancaster County, this is the guide to have.

lancaster county business directoryThe 448-page 2011 edition has a circulation of 60,000 and can be found at area businesses.  Amish shops, especially retail stores, often have copies of the guide near the entrance, free for the taking.  I actually snagged mine at the Gordonville Book Store while doing a little book shopping.

The guide states that there are 25,000 businesses in Lancaster County, though last year’s edition only claimed 11,000, so either they found a lot of new businesses somewhere, or perhaps expanded how they counted a business (geographically?).  Either way, there are a lot.

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Somewhere between 2000-2500 of them would be Amish, though Amish companies are heavily represented in the directory itself.  Mennonite and English firms can be found as well.  In addition to Lancaster businesses, you also find other PA businesses and even some out-of-state companies jostling for space in the LCBD.  Seems everybody wants to be seen in this thing.

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I always enjoy flipping through the LCBD.  I guess for me it’s kind of like Super Bowl commercials are for some people–usually you skip the ads, but here the ads are the attraction.

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In the LCBD you can find products and businesses that you don’t see everyday, from a wide range of companies.  I especially enjoy the colorful, creative, sometimes clever product pitches.  It also gives you a good sense of what kind of economic activity is happening among the Amish and their Lancaster neighbors, and who (and what) they are selling outside of their communities.  Like any other entrepreneurs, Amish business people understand the value of advertising, and since they do less of it online, the Business Directory can be an important way to get exposure.

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To give you a sense of the guide, in addition to the many furniture shops and builders, a quick scan reveals air motors, a bucket company, a gourd seller, Maytag washer repair, stoves, spindles, solar lighting, organic feed, cart and wagon shops, Amish roofers, blacksmiths, bakeries, a butcher, waterless toilets (“Ideal for sheds and cabins”), auctioneers, toymakers, and the list goes on and on.  You’ve also got non-traditional ads, such as a spot for the Clinic for Special Children.

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The book offers full-color, glossy ads which occupy the prime middle section, and monocolor ads that take up the front and back.  The full-color ads tend to be the big Amish furniture makers, Amish contractors, and equipment dealers.

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In the monocolor section you find more of the smaller businesses who cater to an Amish clientele, like buggy shops, an Amish hat seller, dry goods, and crafts stores.  These are often business-card sized ads.  The guide also has two indices–a categorical and an alphabetical index–handy if you have an idea who or what you’re looking for.

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The Lancaster County Business Directory is the standard when it comes to business listings for Amish and other companies in Lancaster County.  I realize I’ve just given them a small commercial here, but I’m not getting a nickel for it–I just happen to think it’s a pretty nifty guide.  If you’re not able to travel to Lancaster to pick one up in person, you might try the website: davcoadvertising.com, or phone: 800-283-2826.

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