Let’s take a look inside some Amish food and variety stores today. These stores are in the community at Kalona, Iowa (photos by Jim Halverson). Kalona itself is a sleepy-ish town lying next to one of the country’s oldest Amish settlements.
Amish settlers first came here in 1846, even before there was a town. Today they number about 1,400 in 11 church districts. Within that group, there is a New Order Amish community as well. It’s a nice place to visit, though a bit off the beaten path. There are a good number of Amish businesses serving both the local Amish community and non-Amish customers. Now on to the stores.
The first store we will check out is the Stringtown Grocery. Great name. We can see by the community map that it looks pretty centrally located, at least within the Amish community (which is north of Kalona proper):
This is a grocery store with what looks to be some really nice prices, as you can see here. Which deals jump out at you?
A view of the aisles. Here are your baking supplies and related items. On the lower left you can see white corn meal and yellow corn grits. Large packages for large families.
One reviewer of this store writes: “Stringtown Grocery is so much fun. The selection of candy, jam, and cheese is amazing. The 50 pound bags of King Arthur Flour make me contemplate just how much I would have to bake to make them worthwhile. It’s quite the cultural experience.”
Another says: “This is a great bulk food store with fresh baked goods. Their spices are very reasonably priced and I stocked up. We also like their pickles and fruit jams.”
Here’s the abundant spice selection:
Finally a view of the checkout aisle. Anything catch your eye here?
You can see the numerous ceiling fans in this store. These are likely run by pneumatic power. In the photo below you’ll see a closer look at such a fan in a store in Ohio. This one has the added twist of including a makeshift “air conditioner” with a water drip sponge attachment:
This type of technology would not be seen in more conservative Amish churches, but is common enough in the more progressive places.
Community Country Store
On to the next establishment, the Community Country Store. What we see here is a variety-type store which also carries some foods.
A look down the aisle filled with books, pots and pans, and other home goods.
Clothing, more books, and other items.
Weaver’s Apparel scarves.
Black hats and a variety of shoes including by Skechers, a popular brand with the Amish.
Coats, jackets, and sweaters in very Amish hues.
This store also has a bulk food section.
The cheese refrigerator.
Everything here looks familiar, but for one. What is “Variety Loaf”? I also like the very practical request at bottom: “Please close door as soon as possible. Thank you!” Reminds me of what my folks would get on me about as a kid standing in front of the open fridge door, trying to decide what I wanted to snack on.
And here’s the organic beef fridge. A well-laid out selection diagrammed on the front (also to help cut down on excessively open fridge doors). “Mostly Grass-fed.”
Working in a prep area.
Finally, some wisdom on the store’s whiteboard.
Other Kalona Amish Stores
Other Amish-owned businesses in this community include a greenhouse, bent-n-dent store, bakery, e-bikes store, mini-barns, furniture, and more. Here are a few of the others:
Miller Homestead Cooking is a meal business run by a New Order Amish family. They can provide food for up to 100 dinner guests. Past meals have included roast beef, fried chicken, mashed potatoes, noodles, country gravy, orange tapioca, pecan pie, and more.
A view from out front of Pine Ridge Variety Store.
Finally, Creekside E-bikes. Electric bikes have become popular among Amish in some communities. This business, housed in a picturesque old barn, also serves non-Amish customers, and even has its own website and Facebook page.
From the latter: “Our bike shop is located in the old brick barn on our dairy farm just north of Kalona Iowa. It is a great place to bike with all the Amish scenery, and stops, and using an electric bike make the journey more enjoyable and effort free. Stop in and see us!”
Thanks to Jim for this look at some of Kalona’s Amish businesses. If you’d like to see more, check out this earlier set of photos from Kalona the town & Amish community.