The first business I stopped at while in Charlotte County, Virginia last month was Esh’s Variety Stand. What is a “variety stand”? Well as you might guess, something like the more common variety store, but in stand form.
I came across this neat little place shortly after arriving in the community, not far from where I took this buggy photo:
It sat down a longish lane on a side road off one of the main byways passing through the settlement. I pulled down the lane to find another customer at the stand, but just leaving.
The stand had a fair share of baked goods and canned goods, along with some woodworking items and also some rugs made from what looked like pieces of dress fabric.
These rugs, however, were much finer than the rag rugs made by the Ohio Swartzentruber woman featured here on the site recently. The pieces seemed to be cut to precision rather than simply being scraps left over from dress-making, as in the other case, and they formed eye-pleasing spiky star-like patterns. No photo of the rugs, unfortunately.
I chatted a bit with the young woman running the stand, sharing that I was visiting from Raleigh. Maybe she found that odd – this is not exactly a large community and not exactly a tourist destination.
As is often the case for young Amish women minding stores in smaller settlements, she wasn’t too talkative. But I did learn a couple of important pieces of information – one, that on the next day would be held the annual school benefit auction, and two, the location of the next business I’d stop at.
You can see the flyer for the school auction on the table here. The auction house was located just maybe a mile or so down the road. I ended up dropping by the auction grounds, where they were preparing for the next day, and had a nice chat with an Amishman running the food stand.
I follow the principle of never leaving these kinds of Amish businesses empty-handed (at least on the first visit). So what did I pick up here?
Just a couple of things – a dozen oatmeal raisin cookies, and a small jar of hot pepper jelly.
The cookies were fantastic. They became my snack for the rest of the day, and my family enjoyed the remainder that made it back home.
The hot pepper jelly was nicely priced at just $2.50.
You can see it has kind of a neon orange glow to it…hinting at the heat contained within?
Alas, I was never able to confirm the heat level of this jelly. Why not? That would be because of the TSA and my forehead-smacking carelessness in packing.
In my rush to get ready for a flight a couple weeks later, I stuck this jar in my carry-on luggage, forgetting that jelly is considered a forbidden liquid in their security schematic.
So, maybe a lucky agent got to test it out (though I think that’s against their policy). That said, that error in packing will not stop me. I’ll make a point of picking up another jar next time I am through this area.
As I finished up my purchase, the girl directed me to a dry goods store not too far away. After she gave me directions explaining that it was down a long lane, and I was confident I had a pretty good idea where it was, I closed by saying they probably have a sign by the road, correct?
No she informed me, no sign. Why not? It is mainly an Amish-patronized store. That is the case in some places. The vast majority of the business of such stores comes from the local Amish community, so they don’t advertise much to the public.
I asked her if English people still go back there, and she said she thought they did, so I went for it (I probably would have gone either way). I’ll share that visit with you in an upcoming post.
Where to find Esh’s Variety Stand
Here’s the address and hours. You’ll only find them open Fridays and Saturdays.
Esh’s Variety Stand
4211 Germantown Road
Charlotte Court House, VA 23923
Friday: 10:30 AM – 7:00 PM
Saturday: 7:00 AM – 7:00 PM
If anyone pays a visit, let us know!
You might also like: