On Saturday I visited the Union Grove Amish settlement, one of two in North Carolina. This was a quick one as I was on the way to the Blue Ridge Parkway on a trip with my brother. We stopped in at the big attraction in the community, the Amish-owned Shiloh General Store. That was followed up by a stop at Wholesome Country Creamery just down the road, another Amish business I was happy to see was still around.
I considered saying hello to one or two Amish people I knew of in the community, but skipped it due to the COVID situation and lack of time.
The Shiloh store is larger than it once was. Previously:
It’s since moved into a new building:
The signage is different now as well:
Inside they have the wide variety of foods and items you’d expect in this sort of Amish store:
I grabbed a German chocolate pie, cheese tray (road snacks), fried okra, and a few other things.
They also have a sandwich stand which seemed to be pretty popular.
I got a pastrami and swiss:
Quilts, and even Amish dolls were on display (I am assuming the would sell these to non-Amish customers, unlike another store I visited last year in Virginia):
Sign at the bathroom. I wonder who put this up..?
At the checkout I spoke with Mark Graber, who was running the cash register. He looks older than this now:
That image is from a news report on the store, done in early 2019. Mark told me that after that report, business to the store basically doubled.
He also said that they really haven’t seen a slowdown due to COVID.
I also exchanged some brief words with Mark’s father, who owns the store. I told him the last time I was there (2014), the place was smaller. He informed me they built the new store in 2017.
Wholesome Country Creamery & Other businesses
Leaving Shiloh General Store I headed to another nearby business just down the road, the Wholesome Country Creamery. Things looked about the same as at my last visit.
I treated myself to some maple walnut ice cream and a chocolate milk. Very rich tasting and as the name says, creamy.
Near the Creamery there is a furniture store.
Signs for other businesses in the area.
Leaving the community shortly after, we came upon this skid loader rolling down the road.
As this is a pretty progressive Amish community, I expected to see an Amish person driving.
As we passed, I saw I was correct – a young boy, perhaps 10 years old.
Union Grove is a small but nice community to visit, especially if you are in the mood for some Amish-style foods. As this just a single-church-district settlement, there isn’t a lot there, and it is quite different from the state’s other Amish settlement, the very plain Swartzentruber community at Ellenboro. But if you find yourself nearby-ish, it’s certainly worth stopping.
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Don’t look to be Amish
They look more like Mennonites, The often run stores that sell some “Amish” goods.
The women’s coverings look Mennonite as well as the driving of a tractor, and being interviewed on TV.
They are not Mennonite, but rather New Order Amish (and this community is from the “electric” sub-group). Similarities to Old Order Amish like horse-and-buggy, plain clothing, etc. But New Order Amish are a bit different from Old Order Amish in some ways. For example they tend to be more permissive of photography, and allow air travel.
thanks for the pics
The Amish in some communities know how to make lots of money off the English who believe what they sell is something all that special. We lived in a very conservative Old Order settlement where this happens on a VERY SMALL scale.
Glad you liked the pics. It was a fun visit. I believe people buy things for different reasons. It could be quality, it could be convenience, it could also be the “story” behind the products they are buying and the experience attached. It could be a combination of reasons, or different reasons than these altogether.
A big part of selling something is branding and quality. Amish are very good at branding and their lifestyle lends itself to the old-fashioned, good, quality that people look for. I know that many English businesses provide similar products and share similar beliefs and hard work as do Amish businesses, but I also know that Amish are the Amish. I know that the products I buy are going to usually be of quality, often home or in-house made. I also know that the values of the proprietors are likely closer to mine own, at least when it comes to family and religious values. I also know that being Amish usually (but not always) means integrity and honesty in their business practices and that hard work went into their finished product. I also know that I’m likely supporting a small business and also a family with children when I buy from them.
As David mentioned, many Amish sell something that people believe are special. It’s not about being special or not special. It’s simply branding, trust, quality, and relating with something. McDonalds isn’t special, but their reliability and product is consistent and trusted by people.
I hope you both had a safe trip to and from N.C. My wife and I took a small trip today to Greene County to Yoders
Erik, I wanted to thank you for sharing the road trip you and your brother took to N.C., Shiloh sells some of the best tasting butter Amish hand rolled unsalted, and they sell a Blueberry Jam by Das Haus that is out of this world, I usually buy the sugar free because it has a better flavor. My wife and I took a trip to Greene County, TN off exit 23, went to Yoders, she wanted to get some small noodles for her vegatable stew, we bought a big tub of Amish hand rolled unsalted butter, I was looking for some active dry yeast, we got a 1 pound bag of it, we bought some Stoltzfus quick warm up diners, and a few other items.
I hope you all had a happy and safe trip to and from N.C., I got a kick out of that restroom sign… too funny!! lol
I always enjoy you bringing us very interesting stories about things related to Amish, Oh! by the way, I have loved Goot Essa foods, the cheese is out of this world when it comes to taste and quality.
Blessings as always my brother!
Thank you Arthur! And thanks for sharing your experiences too – I think this is the same Yoder’s you visited? https://amishamerica.com/an-amishy-country-market/
If so, great store. That’s actually where I got on my fried okra snack kick, and now I pick up a box anytime I’m in a similar store.
As for the sign, there was another funny one actually inside the men’s bathroom, but I didn’t post it – “My aim is to keep this bathroom clean – your aim will help”. Very practical message I thought 🙂
I Never have been to N.C.but thanks for taking me along today!
I really enjoy your column Erik, and I try to never miss it!
My roots go WAY WAY WAY back to the Amish, thus the interest I suppose. We have been to Amish country in PA., but no others.
I really enjoy the customs, and the horse and buggy pics, and their recipes.
THANKS FOR SHARING ~ Merry Christmas, from Oregon.
CJ awesome, thanks! Glad you shared Oregon, I am always curious where readers are from. No Amish communities in your state unfortunately. I guess the closest would be in Idaho or Montana, but those are all pretty small. Maybe worth a visit though? Montana I hear is beautiful. Merry Christmas to you too.
Nice looking store. The country stores I visit in the Northeast the Amish are not wearing masks and going about their business as usual. If you engage in conversations with them they have this COVID situation pretty well figured out. Fear is not in their vocabulary!
At Shiloh they were wearing masks and had hand sanitizer out by the entrance. Clearly not the case in all places though, as you experienced. I do believe the Amish as a whole are less fearful regarding the COVID situation.
I work at a winery tasting room, one mile away from Shiloh, do I frequent the store a lot. I always recommend to my guests to visit both the store and the creamery.
FYI The store has limited hours in January and February.