I just happened to be looking at reviews for Mishler’s Country Store, in Dalton, Wisconsin. People seem to really love that place – both readers here, and at review sites like Yelp and Google. It got me wondering – what makes a good Amish store?
Here are some of my own criteria, yours might differ:
- Selection – a big selection of course is nice
- Amish clientele – I like the stores where Amish actually shop. I think people appreciate this as “authentic”
- Owners/workers are friendly – I’ve been in stores where I felt like I was almost bothering people by being there. As a general rule, New Order Amish businesses tend to be among the friendlier places.
- Fresh food – I specifically mean having a deli, with subs or sandwiches. If I can leave with my lunch or drive-home dinner ready to go, you get extra points. A great recent example was Walker Valley Market in Pearisburg, VA
- Baked goods – This is my soft spot. If you have a nice baked goods selection, you win
- Off the beaten path – If I have to drive way out there to find your place, that’s a good thing. Extra points if I have to stop at an Amish place on the way and ask directions
Some of these may exist in opposition to one another. For example, I think the places which are more touristy will tend to be more friendly – but then you probably have fewer Amish people actually shopping there.
To take another, last year I visited an “off the map” store in Charlotte County, VA. It was well hidden – way down a long winding dirt lane, not even a sign by the main road. Great.
I had to get directions from an Amish person at another, better-marked business – and truth be told it was mainly meant for Amish shoppers (though I was told it was okay to go back there).
The lady working there was not rude to me, but nor was she what I’d call “friendly”. And I get it. But it remains one of my most memorable Amish store visits.
What do you think, what makes a good Amish store?