Lancaster County Business Directory

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.

lancaster businesses

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.

lancaster county furniture business

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:, or phone: 800-283-2826.

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    1. john dunning

      i reside south of buffalo where can i find this book

    2. Alice Aber

      Wow, that is some directory!! Wish I had a copy of one, that looks like it could be interesting just to thumb through.

      One of the things that does for me though is remind me how congested it is in the east. Been so long since I have been back there. Not sure I would like all that traffic now, and so many people.

      Thanks for sharing Erik, this was very interesting!

      Blessings, Alice

    3. Richard

      Good morning folks. Its funny because i was just looking through my 2011 copy again last night. I started picking up a copy here and there since the 1980s, and its grown bigger every year. Its a must have for me because there are some Amish businesses that id like to check out for a post at some point.A few have phones because ive already called one or two, while the rest seem to be an answering service.Ive found that if you want one of these, you really should get a copy at the end of the year,as they come out with new copies before the new year. If you went now you would have a heck of a time finding one. Richard. Penn

    4. Naomi

      What a great way to support local, small businesses! I wish my town published something like this. Unfortunately, I think we have more Wal-marts, per capita, than just about anywhere else.

    5. Damon Hickey

      You can browse through it online (free) at

    6. Marilyn in New York

      I would really like one of those, too. It would be great when I am touring the area to see some local Amish businesses. Some places don’t advertise and you don’t where to go.

    7. Kathy Rowe

      It does look like a great book to have. Wouldn’t mind having one myself.
      Hope everyone is doing okay. It is a beautiful spring day today in NE TN. But, getting ready for rain tomorrow 🙁

    8. lanore

      I want and checked out the web site,they charge you for the directory. $8:00 for each one. Shoot, guess I will have to wait until I go down again. Have a good day.

    9. Alice Mary

      Thanks for the “look”, Erik, and for the URL, Damon.

      How much do the Amish use (via other people, I’d guess) the internet for sales? (Alice Aber might have some thoughts on this) I ordered some bakery goods last year from a small Amish “bakery” in Arthur, IL—shipping was as much as the items, but I wanted to try the cranberry-rhubarb bread and peanut butter whip & I think some preserves, too. I paid the cheapest shipping (figured I could warm up the bread in the microwave if it arrived stale), but they sent it “express”, anyway, with no extra charge to me! It couldn’t have taken even two days—maybe one! I found the bakery online through the online Arthur Amish shopping “guide”.

    10. Debbie Welsh

      Hi Erik & Everyone!
      I picked up one of those LCBD’s a couple years ago and that’s how I’ve found all of these neat little Amish businesses to go to.
      I’ve been enjoying this site for a couple weeks now and finally decided to join in. Never done anything like this before but like the rest of you I’ve always had a keen interest and love for the Amish. I’ve been going to Lancaster for years and then finally got to go out to Holmes & Wayne counties in Ohio last year (actually went in the spring and again in the fall) and that’s when I discovered that all Amish are not alike and that there’s a whole world of communities out there that I never knew about.
      So now, with the help of the internet and the Amish newspapers I’m able to explore so much more than I ever thought possible. And thanks Erik for such a great and informative site!
      BTW, after seeing and reading about the different buggy styles here, my husband & I took a ride down to Dover, Delaware last Saturday (where I never knew the Amish even existed)and sure enough found their community and saw lots of those “hearse” type buggies. The back of them are shaped like those in Ohio and infact their homes are similar too in the style of their curtains & all. We came upon a great general store called Bylers (1368 Rose Valley School Road, Dover, DE) where all the Amish seemed to shop, and they had some great,cheap prices on food and delicious Amish baked goods.

    11. Debbie we’re very glad you paid a visit~! Looks like our paths almost crossed in Dover there 🙂 I’m thinking the Dover Amish are going to become known as the hearse Amish or maybe “undertaker Amish” for their buggies.

      I popped into Byler’s there as well, it is a good place if you are looking for food. I did see at least one Amish family in there when I was there. I got some peanut butter of course.

    12. Amish advertising online

      Alice Mary, a very good question on Amish promoting businesses online. It depends. Some do use it by selling through other sites who retail their products; some even have their own sites, but are typically run by another person.

      If you’re curious, here’s an example of an “Amish” site–directly advertising an Amish business–a friend of mine’s pole barn company:

      Damon thanks for sharing the online version, I had forgotten about that. Great to have that available too.

    13. Alice I didn’t think of that but like the book is packed with businesses so is the county packed with people 🙂

      Richard that is interesting, have you noticed any big changes since the 80s? For me, just over the past few years, the color glossy ads seem to have expanded.

    14. Lanore I didn’t know they charged you online. Maybe that covers the shipping.

      Naomi if you have a lot of Wal-Marts I think Amish would appreciate your town 🙂

    15. Richard

      Hey eric…. your right about the added glossy ads, alot more of those over the years, and its thicker now. An effect of more busineses added and i notice alot more Amish ones as well. I think its a reflection of how many Amish have gone from farming, to the craft business.I didnt know you could get that online, and like i had said this morning, getting a 2011 copy should be on the tough side at this time of the year.Maybe i should try and sell mine on ebay,lol. Richard.Pennsylvania

    16. Slightly-handled-Order-man

      I don’t know if there is a business directory for my area, or if it simply has been replaced by the phone book. There might be, one probably has to get a BD at the chamber of commerce or something. There was a Canadian TV show called “Ancestors In The Attic” that, in one episode, explained how one could use Business Directories from throughout the years to potentially find your ancestors and what they did for a living. Mind you, you do have to have an idea of what they did and be sure that they were in the area you’re looking at the time. Still, from the point of view of a history buff, Business Directories from history can be a neat thing to look at and see how times are different, and in some cases how things stay the same.
      Thinking of advertising memorabilia, I have a pencil from either the late 1950s or early 1960s when they used letters, words and numbers in phone numbers. It actually looks modern from a graphic design point of view.

    17. Richard

      Hey folks….. I just got back from Hershey ,Pa.I only drove past the park this time as it was closed. Its been a very long while since i was actually inside the Hershey complex, so i think the year was 1972 i was 11 years old. I remember that we were having a heat wave in the northeast at that time, does anyone remember that. In fact it was so hot the temps hit 110 degrees, people were fainting and becoming sick in the park. So my folks decided to leave the park early, and i always felt cheated that i couldn’t stay longer. When you go through town the first thing you notice is the huge factory sitting in the center of town, theres also no denying the huge influence that the Hershey company has on this town, and seeing the name Hershey only brings home that fact. And for a free treat, when you drive through town you will smell a hint of chocolate like i did today. Richard. Penn

    18. Mona

      Third try to send this message…….just buy AMERICAN……nothing else needs to be said……save our jobs here….

      If you happened to watch DIANE SAWYER this past week on WORLD NEWS then you know what I’m talking about…….

      Before you make a purchase, look to see where it was made !!!!!! Need I say more…….

    19. loretta

      I think the 8 dollars is for the postage and for the time for someone to ready it for mailing. I know that the one I got a few years back was fairly heavy.

    20. Slightly-handled-Order-man

      I prefer to “Buy Local” instead of “Buy American” only entirely because I am Canadian. Mind you, I myself like to buy within the geographical region. If I can buy something produced within the Great Lakes Region, USA or Canada side of the boarder, I probably would, because it got to me quicker than flying something up from California or Mexico.

      NAFTA, which perhaps at least in part spurred patriotic cries to “Buy American” has been detrimental to all three countries involved, America, Mexico and Canada. But anyway, if you’re there and you’re leafing through the LCBD, go ahead and Buy Lancaster County!

    21. Richard

      If anyone is really interested in buying as many american made products as possible, go to the web site This writer is based in the state of Florida, and even though most of the information is in his book, you can find out a little just from the web site. I have the book myself, and i was pretty shocked at some of the companies that I’ve been buying from all these years turned out to be based in other countries. Some items like TVs and most electronic goods are no longer made in the usa, as well as some other items. I try to buy local as well now, and with that i do my best in buying something that’s made in America. I can talk about this subject all day because I’m fascinated with it. Has anyone looked at the content label on a automobile lately?, have you noticed that north american content has been going down with almost every new model. So there’s a lot of out- sourcing going on, and what they like to say “globalization”. Richard. Pennsylvania

    22. Al in Ky.

      Thanks,Erik, for sharing the information about the
      business directory. I have visited 29 Amish
      settlements in 10 states and hope to visit many
      more. Whenever I visit a community new to me,
      first I try to get a good map of the community.
      Then I go to the nearest town and ask some of the
      local non-Amish if they have an Amish business
      directory and/or if they know where any Amish
      stores are. If they don’t have a directory or
      don’t know where any Amish stores are located, I
      get out my copy of Raber’s Almanac and look up
      addresses of the Amish ministers in the area and
      then drive out to those roads and start looking for
      signs that say things like “Eggs for Sale — No
      Sunday Sales”. I’ll stop at that farm and then ask
      where else I might go to buy things in that community. Many of the communities now have business
      directories; some are in color and nicely printed
      like the Lancaster one, some are simply one sheet
      of paper with names and addresses of Amish stores/
      businesses. The only community where I haven’t found any Amish stores to visit was Homerville, Ohio. I stopped at the Amish produce auction there and talked with a couple of Amish men and they both said their community had hardly any stores and they weren’t sure if the two they knew of were open to
      selling to non-Amish customers.

    23. Amish bulk food store-Big Valley PA

      Al that sounds like a pretty good strategy! I follow one pretty similar myself. Your last sentence was interesting, when I dropped in to a Byler Amish store in Big Valley, I almost felt like I was intruding on something–though it was a general bulk food-type store with a couple of signs directing you there. One of the ladies working there made it a point to come to me and ask if they could help with something. Maybe they thought I was lost!

      Richard I have fond memories of a boyhood visit to Hershey; when I visited a few years ago though it seemed like it had become more of a megapark. I’d expect them to have added on since I was there which was probably 25 years ago.

    24. OldKat

      Al in Ky. — what a great tip, thanks. My wife wants me to take her to some Amish communities to shop and look around & we will do it this fall and/or next spring if gasoline prices don’t keep soaring up.

      Erik; that question “Can I help you with something?” is a question that I have been asked frequently in Amish and non-Amish settings, but usually in more rural areas. Obviously I wasn’t there, so I don’t know how she meant it. I do suspect that it was somewhat more of a cultural issue and not so much of a “what are YOU doing in here?” type of thing.

      The irony of ME trying to explain something to YOU about the Amish approach to business is not lost on me though!

    25. Are outsiders welcome in Amish shops?

      OldKat, good point, and you’re probably right. I’ve certainly had people ask me the same before; what made this seem different was that she sort of beelined to me and also the tone.

      Not exactly unpleasant, but also actually did sound kind of a bit like “what are you…”. It might have just reflected the fact that they don’t get a lot of English in that particular shop; it was really an “ethnic” shop more than one for the general public. Of course Big Valley doesn’t have anything near the tourist traffic which could factor in as well.

      In any case they didn’t have the batteries I needed, and I continued to browse a bit before hitting the road.

    26. Richard

      Before i go speaking of flying hats, maybe i should go over to that hat company and see if they would let me take some pictures. You dont know unless you ask, right folks. I have 2 or 3 hats from that company, but never thought about going over to their little factory until now. well im off……….. Richard. Penn

    27. If you’re looking for small businesses local to Lancaster County 9and surrounding areas, really), this is a great resource. We’ve worked with several business that advertise in this directory.

    28. Amish Website

      Please checkout our Amish Indidana Website at and feel free to post my website on your Lancaster Directory