I always tell people that if you are new in an Amish community, and want to meet the locals, the best thing to do is to visit their businesses.
Larger communities like Lancaster County and Holmes County have significantly more Amish businesses.
But they’re not as densely located or convenient to visit as in Ethridge, Tennessee‘s community of 11 church districts.
It seems every other place here has something to sell.
You know this by the simple signs posted at the ends of lanes, or where one road meets another.
When I say “business”, many of these are simply places selling food products, candles and the like.
These stores are very much the type that encourage a quick drop-in and a fun easy small purchase or two.
There may be a separate small building housing the business (common).
Or a stand.
Or you might have a situation like I did at the last stop in this community two weeks ago.
This home seemed to have a lot for sale.
As my brother and I pulled in, a man name Abe stepped out to meet us.
I asked about the canned goods. Rather than invite us into a building, Abe simply ducked into his home and brought out a tray half-filled with the canned goods they had available. We left with hominy and jam.
There are a good handful of furniture shops and chair makers.
Often, one place sells a variety of items. Peanut brittle and its cousins are everywhere.
You might come across a surprise, like this wooden basketball game.
The Amishman who makes these, Daniel Swartzentruber, showed them to us as we were getting ready to leave. Good upsell by Daniel.
You use the spoon to launch the ball into the hoop.
Daniel was able to score a basket on just his second try. He’ll give you one of these for just four dollars.
Many businesses will have homemade cards like this one:
A good idea is to pick up the Amish business map from the Amish Heritage Welcome Center.
Note: there is another business just a few buildings down which has a similar name but is not the original place.
Business offerings change throughout the year. You’ll see sign holders where boards display what’s available. Some may be empty if there’s nothing for sale.
Summer is a busier time for these places. In one shop where we stopped, we were the first customers of the day nearing 5pm.
The day before, they had also only had one customer.
A woman I spoke with said it is mainly tourists who stop in, not so much the locals.
The places on the tour wagon route probably benefit the most, and there are some nice stops there.
But I’d also encourage also driving off the main area near the Center and see what you come across.
There are 57 places listed on the map, but there are definitely more than that.
I wouldn’t be surprised if in reality there are 100 Amish homes where you can buy something – or perhaps many more.
This area doesn’t really have a dairy industry (produce is the way of things here as far as farming), so selling homemade foods and other items is an important part of the Amish economy, and they have really embraced it.
Despite being a very traditional community, the Amish of Ethridge are inviting outsiders onto their farms to buy their products.
In my experience the people are friendly, the things they sell are very reasonably priced, and of good quality.
All in all, when it comes to stopping off at random Amish stores and businesses, I don’t think there is a community where I enjoy doing this more than at Ethridge.
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I’ve been going to Ethridge for about 25 years now. If I need something we’ll made I go there. My wife and I love the Amish and at time wish we could be so self sufficient. We watch them with their back breaking work in the fields doing back breaking work if picking produce and such.
Their foods can’t be beat! I use to get the pecan pie for like $3.00 and apple pie for about the same. Just fantastic! The jams and jelly’s are very good. After visiting them, I became involved with doing my own canning. I give them all the credit for opening my mind as to baking. I was about 1 month from opening my bakery when God called us to move from Alabama to North Carolina. He spoke and we listened. We were to adopt two children who were very abused.
Because of these wonderful Amish people, I pressed on to remodel my home with the help of my children. As I learned, they learned. I taught them to be self sufficient. So, I now go back with my trailer and buy lawn furniture from the men there. It’s so much better than store bought. I resell it here at cost plus 10% to cover my costs.
Great story Patrick, thanks for sharing. Sounds like the Amish and the ones at Ethridge in particular have been an inspiration for you.
The businesses there are a little (or sometimes a lot) rough around the edges if someone is used to the picture-perfect shops in some of the larger tourist-oriented settlements. But for me this only adds to their appeal. I’ve really enjoyed the people I’ve met there as well.
I’m curious, as someone who has been going there 25 years, do you have any favorite businesses at Ethridge you’d recommend?
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Habegger's Amish Market, Scottsville
I went to Habegger’s Amish Market, Scottsville, Kentucky yesterday. It was obvious to me when I entered the store, that it was not Amish. They did have some bulk spices and such. We went on and turned at the first right and there was a Mennonite store it had no name. If I hadn’t been told otherwise I would have thought it was Amish. It has all the atmosphere of an Amish store. I had bought cumin at the first store in bulk for 2.70, It was 2.oo at the second store. I bought a quart of clear Vanilla flavoring at the first store and it was 11.00. The second store had it for 3.50 a pint. If I had waited I could have gotten 3 pints and had money left. We thought that we had been to the second store previously and the men confirmed that we had. The Amish Market was once owned by Amish, but not now. The sandwich was reasonably priced and very delicious at the Amish market. My grandsons even knew that the Market
A few years ago one of my favorite local Amish businesses, Southwestern New York,was identified by a sign advertising
“Wind Vains Four Sail”.
Sadly I never took a picture.
I had to read the sign text twice before I got it. At first I thought this was some kind of Amish nautical-themed business.
Your pictures and comments provided a good description of the businesses/stores/shops in the Ethridge settlement.
I have visited many Amish stores/stands in settlements in several states, including Ethridge, and agree that the stores/stands in the Ethridge settlement are densely located, convenient and unique. I agree that there likely are over 100 Amish farms where at least one item is for sale. When I visited the community in Oct. 2018, I got a small newspaper-like publication at one of the two visitors/welcome centers. On the center pages of the publication was a large map listing homesteads’ addresses that were selling things, as well as a listing of types of items for sale. I remember counting the number of addresses and I think I counted well over 100. I asked for another copy when I was in Ethridge in Oct 2019 and the clerk in the store said they were out of that publication, but that is was being updated and reprinted.
During my first visit, I stopped at places just on the west side of
Hwy. 43. Last fall when I visited, I also stopped at a couple of places on the east side of Hwy. 43. There weren’t nearly as many places selling things, but one store I really liked was a bulk food store. I’m thinking they maybe didn’t have a sign out by the road, but earlier in the day I had asked around to see if there was a bulk food store in the settlement and was given the address of the one I visited. I would encourage anyone visiting the Ethridge settlement from about April through October, to plan to visit the produce auction at Ethridge where many Amish farmers sell produce.
If a person was traveling down I-65 or another road through southern Kentucky to get to Tenn., I would encourage them to stop at Scottsville, Ky., at the Old Order Mennonite settlement and visit some of the OOM stores at Scottsville, just as Wyvonne Hobbs mentioned above. There are a couple of good stores as well as several nice produce stands.
I was glad to see you have the same impression as far as sheer number of homes selling something in Ethridge. I would like to see that more extensive publication that you mentioned, wasn’t aware of it. I guess it’s hard to cram more than 50 or 60 places onto the business map handout.
I don’t think I’ve been in a Swartzentruber-run bulk foods place before. Good to know about it.
I’ll piggyback on your travelers’ tip and say that anyone traveling from Ethridge to Mississippi should try to hop on the Natchez Trace Parkway for at least some of your journey.
We found this route accidentally thanks to Google’s directions. A 400-plus-mile parkway more or less following the historic Natchez Trace trail. Similar feel to the Blue Ridge Parkway, but with more history. Really enjoyable way to travel through that part of the country, and the happiest accidental discovery of the trip.
Me, my wife and as many friends as I can convince to ‘buy Amish” as I can do, indeed, buy Amish whenever possible. The biggest Amish store is “Mishler’s Country Store in Dalton, Wisconsin and it, along with several other Amish businesses, is always patronized by more English than Amish…only because there are more English in the area than Amish. This store is successful because of the high quality of their goods and honest way of doing business. It also helps that they carry many items which aren’t available in “English food stores.” The 20 mile journey to get to most of the Amish businesses pays off because of the excellent quality and friendliness of proprietors of these businesses. They can count on me and mine to be loyal customers as long as we live.
Mishler's Country Store
This must be a good place. We’ve had at least a couple of other readers mention it, dating back to 2011. Sounds like it’s well worth the extra mileage to visit.
My Visit to Ethridge Spring 2019
I was in Ethridge last Spring and attended the Plowboy produce Auction. I purchased two 36 plant trays of Cherokee Purple tomatoes for $21 per tray, and one for $20. They were about 8″ tall. The previous week I paid $5.99 per plant online. I wound up with about 102 plants, I planted about 20 and gave the rest to my church for their sale. One of my plants produced a 2 pound tomato!
There is no buyer’s premium at the Auction. I cannot wait to get back up there this year if we are able.
I live an hour away from Middlefield, Ohio. I run over there about 4 times a year. I visit the little shops and the Cheese Museum. The cheese factory was started by Amish who came from Switzerland. Cheese all around this area comes from Middlefield even though many times it may bear the name of some other location. I love browsing in the furniture stores and “Antique Mall.” Many items that were used years ago are there and they have tags on them telling what they can be used for. I have bought MANY things from there because I love the richness of things that have been around for a long time. There is also Mary Yoder’s, and authentic Amish restaurant. It’s always very good. I usually stop in there for a meal before heading home. Always, on my way home, as things become more urban, I feel a sadness. I hate to leave the peaceful, quiet, well-kept, simple and pure community of the Amish.
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