I’ve picked up a lot of interesting, and often delicious, items while visiting Amish businesses around the country.
Here are my top 3 buys:
1) Hickory rocker. Technically, this was more “barter” than “buy”. It was 2005, and I was selling books in the sprawling Holmes County, Ohio Amish community. I had stopped in one afternoon at an Amish furniture place–a hickory rocker maker, to be precise, and had just shown him my books in his small shop.
I could tell he liked them. Business wasn’t bad, but cash flow was low at the time, he said. So he offered to trade a rocker for the books. That rocker made a great present for my dad. It’s a bit weatherworn now, but just as comfy as the day it was “bartered”.
(I also borrowed something from Hickory Man. On a return visit a couple years later, the youngish married fellow made sure I left with a copy of a book he was enthusiastic about–The 5 Love Languages. I just realized I still have it. Oops. Return visit, asap. But that little exchange made me realize that the Amish marriage is not necessarily an idyllic thing–and that “even the Amish” need to put effort into their relationships. Hickory Man seemed to be doing well in that department, for whatever it’s worth).
2) Amish directory. I am a collector of Amish church directories. It is always something of an adventure trying to track one down when you are in a new Amish community. The first one I ever purchased was in the Arthur, Illinois settlement, at a dry goods business. The maps it contained were quite helpful while selling books in the community.
Sometimes, when a directory hasn’t been published for awhile, I’ve simply had to ask for an old copy, as I did in both Kalona and Bloomfield, Iowa (the directories in those communities are not much more than a few pages long). The people I asked were glad to share their old ones.
Amish typically publish church directories every 5 or so years. A directory will often include daughter settlements as well, as you can see in this photo of the Allen County, Indiana guide.
The largest directory is that of Holmes County, which is approaching 1000 pages. Lancaster is overdue (last one was published in 2002) but I hear there should be a new one coming out soon.
3) Pies. Lately I’ve been getting some good ones (blackberry, strawberry rhubarb) at Shrewsbury Markets, a PA Dutch market in York County, Pennsylvania. But great pies can be had just about anywhere you find a baker in Amish America.
But every one of those delicious sandwiches I’ve ever eaten has been on the house (let’s just say I’ve got “Riehl” good connections there).
How about you–your best, favorite, tastiest, most memorable purchase from an Amish business, or auction?
Photo credits: Amish rocker-juliecinci; pies-Paul Goyette
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