After a recent period in which I visited about a dozen Amish stores in four states (Colorado, Kentucky, Ohio, Virginia), I realized I tend to buy the same things over and over again. Maybe that means I need to step outside my box a bit. Either way I thought it might be nice to share what’s on my “regular buys” list. So here are five items I tend to come home with after visiting Amish stores (variety stores, food stores, etc). One of them is technically not a purchase, because you can usually get it as a freebie when available. If you watched the recent Amish store haul video, you’ll recognize some, but not all, of these things:
1.Maple syrup – I think this habit started thanks to a visit to the Walker Valley Market in Pearisburg, Virginia. They have the best selection of maple syrup I have seen. A couple of years back I bought 4 or 5 of their small sample jars to try and compare. Now I usually pick up a bigger bottle or two. Also makes a nice gift, people like all-natural maple syrup. I bought two bottles from Walker Valley this time, and also this bottle from a bulk foods store in Ohio:
2. Amish Directory – Amish directories are community listings of church members which also may include other interesting info, such as the history of a settlement and businesses.
I picked up several lately, including two from Kentucky, one from Virginia, and a “Western States” directory (covering Montana, Wyoming, and Idaho) when I was in Colorado.
Here’s an example of a community history. One of the shortest you’ll see. This was a very new settlement at the time it was written:
This guide even includes an Amtrak network map, something I hadn’t seen in a directory before. Probably pretty useful especially considering many Amish traveling to and from these settlements would be going by train. There’s also this general settlement location map:
3. Baked goods – These are the easiest buys of them all, especially if it’s something you can just open up and eat right there in the car (cookies, fry pies, etc.) That said I don’t believe I came across too many baked goods on these recent store visits, oddly, or at least none that I decided to buy. There was a bakery in one of the Colorado settlements, but wasn’t able to get there before closing. In lieu of that here’s a photo of some cashew brittle from Amish in either Tennessee or Mississippi, I can’t remember. Technically I might be wrong but I think cashew brittle can count as a “baked good” (or close enough anyway 🙂 ):
4. Calendar – Actually, this is something you normally can pick up for free. Stores have them made with their business info on them and then give them away. I got two nice ones from stores in Colorado showing wildlife scenes and the like. Unfortunately I don’t have them handy right now to photograph so in lieu of that I’ll show you a picture of an old one from King’s Kountry Store:
5. Jam or other Canned Goods – Here’s some “Hoppin’ F.R.O.G.” jam also from the Pearisburg store. Traditional F.R.O.G. jam is made from Fig, Raspberry, Orange Juice, and Ginger, hence the funny name. With the hoppin’ version you add jalapeno for extra pop I guess. Kinda makes sense. Cute name anyway.
Jam, apple butter, pickled vegetables, chow-chow, church-style peanut butter are all nice canned goods choices to pick up when you’re at an Amish store.
In addition to these typical buys, I did buy a few atypical-for-me items on these trips as well. Here are two of them:
“Welcome” magnet – I got this at an Amish furniture store in Colorado, for six bucks. Looks nice on my fridge.
Super tonic – A home remedy concoction which includes fresh ginger root, garlic clove, onion bulb, horseradish root, and cayenne fruit. I’ve had a homemade version of super tonic before when I’ve gotten ill at an Amish friends’ home. I hadn’t seen it packaged and sold before though. This version has a similar kick to what I remember. I automatically feel healthier after a dropper or two.
None of these purchases are break-the-bank expenditures of course (I think the most expensive thing was the Super Tonic at $14). That’s what makes these visits to Amish stores a lot of fun. You can find some higher-dollar items in some stores, and of course if it’s a furniture store, you can easily spend thousands if so inclined. But for the most part you can have an enjoyable visit and come away with some fun and tasty items for not too much $$.