What’s the best thing you’ve bought from an Amish business (or auction)?

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.

amish hickory rockerI 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.

amish directorySometimes, 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.

amish piesAnd speaking of food, I would have said the “Riehl McCoy” sub at Shrewsbury’s Country Style Deli.

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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    53 Comments

    1. Yonie Wondernose

      No vonder you are gitting fat

    2. Alice Aber

      Greetings!!

      My absolute favorite thing is when I get to go to Mrs. Yoder’s house in Arthur and buy her homemade, from the garden, pickled beets. Not that I can’t make my own pickled beets, but I just love going there, LOL. Haven’t been in a while but hope to soon.

      And there is a butcher shop between Arthur and Arcola that I really like too.

      I guess for me its more the food than anything, LOL. I haven’t had much money lately for the “extra” things that I would love to get. But when I do, I know where I am heading to do some of my shopping, LOL.

      Blessings, Alice

    3. Lindsay

      I bought some geraniums in a hanging pot from a family a few weeks ago for my step mother. That’s probably the only non-food Amish item I’ve ever bought. But in good Lindsay fashion I did buy some eggs as well (which later ended up in a delicious French Toast Casserole).

      Probably my favorite is the Amish PB. I found the Amish Peanut Butter too dangerous to keep around me though, unless I hide it…the last jar I bought I dived in with a spoon to take a “taste” while I was at work and ended up eating 1/4 of it while sitting in my cubicle lol.

    4. Donna

      cinnamon rolls

      The best cinnamon rolls Ever at Freedom Country Store near Worthington Indiana. These are made by Edna Slabaugh, every Friday she brings them freash to the store.

    5. Marilyn in New York

      Comment on What's the best thing you bought from an Amish business (or auction)

      Good Morning,
      I guess the best think I ever bought was my first Shoe fly pie from a Mennonite lady at the Newark, New York Farmers Market last year. She told me once I taste one, it would be habit forming with a good cup of coffee and she was right. When I go to visit my Mennonite friend Jean, I never leave her house without all sorts of goodies-cookies, pie, bread, and more. I can’t say I like something because she sees that I take it home with me. As for Amish goodies, when I was in Pennsylvania there was a lady that had a road side stand selling baked goods. I would stop every couple of days and buy goodies from her. Her chocolate chip cookies were out of this world.
      Marilyn

    6. Richard

      www.Amishstorys.com

      I hope everyone is enjoying their memorial day especially our veterans. I have bought a lot of things from the Amish over the years, but id say it always went back to the food that i loved best. If i accidently walk-in to an Amish/Mennonite bakery I’m like a movie star in a Botox clinic, so I’m not walking out empty handed or with wrinkles. I’m a apple butter lover, so i like mine without sugar but with cinnamon spices and the place to go for that would be Kauffman’s in Bird in hand. They grow their own apples and the market is a favorite among the Amish/Mennonites and tourist for over 100 years. If you want a great shoo-fly-pie then it must be at the famous Dutch Haven in Ronks,Pa. I could go on and on here, and if i go any further I’m libel to promote something,lol. Richard from the Amish settlement of Lebanon county.

    7. forsythia

      Cabin plus some furniture

      Aside addition to our cabin in Knox County, OH (built by Amish), we bought two beautiful matching bedside tables (shop in Brinkhaven, OH) and a bookcase (store in Loudonville, OH) for the cabin.

      1. "What's the best thing you've bought from Amish?"

        HI :
        I noticed that you had posted a side addition to your cabin in Knox County built by Amish. Could you please let me know how to contact the builders who worked for you. MY brother lives in Knox County and wants to add an agricultural building to his place.
        Thanks!

    8. Magdalena

      My bonnet, cape dresses and kapps. As my community is not traditionally Plain-dressing, my first dresses were bought from people who resold Amish clothing they had bought at auction or sales. I sew my own now, but my kapps come from Ohio and my bonnet is handmade. Although it is largely Old Order Mennonite, the farmer’s market in St. Jacobs provided all kinds of produce last year for meals, pickles and elderberry syrup.

    9. Ralph Peterson

      Apple Cider, Hickory Nuts

      Good morning everyone,

      We have been going to Holmes county (Dundee, Sugarcreek, Millersburg and surrounding area) each year since 2002. We have been stopping by an apple orchard to get some fresh apple cider. Oh what a treat for someone from the midwest. As we were visiting a young couple one day they were roasting hickory nuts on the wood cook stove. They gave us a good sized bag of fresh, warm roasted hickory nuts to take home with us. What a treat. We made them last for some time. The memories, of those we share time with,last forever. This last March we spent some time in Kalona, Iowa. The hospitality was wonderful. Again more memories.

    10. Matthew

      My one and only purchase from an auction was some potted mums – it was the end of the auction and I got a spectacular deal on them. Unfortunately, they died in the drought last fall.

      But my best purchases always come from the bulk food stores. They have an incredible selection of herbs, fillings, beans, for equally incredible prices.

    11. Karen Pollard

      Amish Things Purchased

      Oh my gosh, where would I start? In 1994, an Amish gentleman from Montgomery, IN made cabinets for our new house. They were wonderful and 1/3 the price of the manufactured ones. He even made a kitchen table, six chairs and 3 bar stools for us.
      Now, my favorite place to visit is the Shipshewana area. Love going to the Country market there to buy jams, jellies and pickles. Love the Cheese Factory there for their fabulous “Butter Cheese.”
      Love the Amish quilt shops in Shipshewana too and can’t get out of one for less than $100.
      Can you tell I love to visit there? We had dinner one night with some Amish grandparents arranged through the B & B where we stayed. That meal was a fabulous spread of many types of meats, vegetables, salads and I bet 6 different types of pies. Wow! It was awesome!!

    12. ann

      The chow chow is the best
      Fresh produce
      Their peanut butter buns
      just so much good food !
      I love buying from the Amish more
      than any other vendors-always!

    13. Forest

      An Amish made garden hoe from Lehman’s. Best one I’ve ever had.

    14. Keith James

      Noah's Ark

      OK, this will sound self-serving (and I suppose it is), but the nicest thing we’ve purchased is a beautiful Noah’s Ark from Owen, one of our Amish crafters for AmishWorkshops.com. We met him last year and when we saw the ark we bought one for ourselves as a display piece. It’s made from cherry, walnut and maple, comes with thirteen pairs of animals, and is finished with beeswax and mineral oil. Here’s the (self-serving) link: http://www.amishworkshops.com/item/Noahs-Ark-26. It really is pretty!

    15. Richard

      www.Amishstorys.com

      Nice one Keith, i had a tear in my eye from that plug. Now i must tell you something that will change your life forever, Keith your my son,lol.When i retire i will pass the torch to you. Richard from Lebanon county’s Amish community.

    16. Primitive Christianity

      Well, I am thinking of my automatic washer I had someone buy for me at an Amish consignment auction (I couldnt be there so an Amish friend bid it for me). Since the Amish dont use fully automatic washers, I picked it up for $3 I think it was. Almost brand new, extra large capacity. Still going today … 🙂

    17. Darlene

      Strawberry-rhubarb jelly and a “quilt” potholder (couldn’t afford a quilt!) from an amish quilt shop in Leola, PA. Also, shoofly pie and whoopie pies!! Heavenly!

      There’s a mennonite bakery about 15 min. from my house and they make pumpkin whoopie pies to die for…I try to stay away from those baking mennonites (but I send EVERYONE to them!).

    18. HEATHER

      Peanut Butter Whip

      I Absolutly LOVE their peanutbutter/marshmallow
      whip. Sometimes I eat it by itself off a spoon but
      my favorite way is to mix it with vanilla yogurt.
      I dont if anyone has ever had the Brown Cow maple
      yogurt – TO DIE FOR!! When you mix vanilla yogurt with
      the Amish peanutbutter whip it’s similar to Brown Cows
      maple yoqurt.

    19. Mona

      Black Raspberry Jam, all kinds of items from the bakery, but my favorite was the BLACK WALNUT PIE……OMG…..it was the best pie ever…….my daughter and I go to one of the Amish stores in Bainbridge I believe it is…they sell furniture, patio furniture, children’s playhouses, swings, adult swings, almost anything you would want, they have a bakery and have wonderful things….and we go Jr.’s General Store, they have a great deli, and they make the best subs….for $2.50, they will make it anyway you want it…..my sister purchased a Bed room set, Dining room table and Hutch from the Amish last year somewhere in Illinois….not sure if it was in Arthur or not, and she absolutely loves her furniture…..it is so well made and will last a lifetime…..seems like she told me she paid over $7000.00 for the furniture….kinda expensive I think, but it is good furniture and well made…….TTYL 🙂

    20. Slightly-handled-Order-man

      I bought a black felt hat from and Old Order business that didn’t advertise itself to outsiders. I politely asked a man wearing an identical hat where I might buy one and he told me were to go. When I finally bought my hat the lady that sold it to me told me to not tell anyone else to come to their shop, evidently they wanted to keep it for the faith.
      I still have it and I doubt I’ll get rid of my hat because it has happy memories attached to it.

    21. Al from Ky.

      My best things I have bought from an Amish business are several
      pairs of shoes from Country Shoe Shop 1/2 mile south of Arthur,
      Ill. For several years, I have bought all of my dress and work
      shoes from that store. The prices are reasonable and I enjoy
      visiting with the store personnel. They keep an index card on
      every customer listing everything you’ve ever bought at the
      store.

      I really like the Amish stores at Arthur; Kalona, Iowa; and
      Munfordville, Ky. I go through Arthur and Kalona each May,
      and to Munfordville each April. Sometimes I go to the Nappanee
      area in the fall. I make it a point to buy all of the merchandise
      I can from Amish stores, so all year long I’m making my lists.
      Then, for example, when I go to Arthur I know what I need at
      Country Shoe Shop and Beachy’s Bulk Foods. When I go to Munfordville I know what I need at Detweiler’s Hardware and Yoder’s
      Variety Store. When I pass through Kalona, I know what I need
      at Community Country Store and the Stringtown store. Ditto
      for the Nappanee area. This is a great topic, Erik and I’ve
      really enjoyed readying about everybody’s favorites.

    22. Judie Pieper

      Basket made to order

      One of the best things I have bought from the Amish , is a basket made by Sue across the street from Mischlers country store on Barry Rd. This is north of Pardeeville, WI. She made it just the size that I stated. I just Love it and have since purchased 2 more, I use them all the time.Other than the basket’s I love all the veggie’s eggs, bakery, and cheese I get in that area, the people are very friendly.I go there as often as I can.

    23. Al, I agree, I’ve enjoyed reading the responses too.

      Primitive Christianity aka Mike, you’ve got me wondering how an automatic washer landed in an Amish consignment auction to begin with!

      Darlene you cracked me up about staying “away from those baking Mennonites”…sounds like a dangerous rogue gang! But maybe that’s what they are for anyone on a diet 🙂

    24. Shom I found it interesting that they wanted to keep the hat patrons only Plain. It reminded me of a visit to a Big Valley dry goods store which I think I mentioned on the blog before.

      Interestingly no one ever has a problem with selling me a church directory.

    25. Richard you had me cracking up too…but I can’t blame you Keith for the plug, if you’ve got something good, plug away I say. Sounds like this is a legitimately nice item. And I’m wondering if I met the toymaker Owen you mention, if it’s northern Indiana you are talking about.

    26. Amish cabinets

      Karen, yes I can tell you love to visit there (Ship)!

      Your mention of the Montgomery IN Amish-made cabinets made me remember a kitchen I saw in an Amish home in that community. It contained probably the most spectacular cabinetry work I have ever seen. “Plain” it was not (at least not by the standard definition!) 😉

    27. OldKat

      Mine is a set of buggy harness purchased from an Amish harness maker in the New Wilmington, Pa community in 1983. I had just priced a similar set at home and his price was less than 1/2 of that at the local store, included the collar (which theirs did not) and it was far superior in quality to anything I could buy locally. Still use that set from time to time and have had numerous people comment on the quality and workmanship. Reminds me that I need to go down to the saddle shop and pick it up. Took it in recently for a good cleaning and oiling. Thanks for the prompt, Erik.

    28. Keith James

      Owen & Gary

      Hi Erik — Thank you! I was torn about whether to post but the ark is just so pretty, I couldn’t help myself.

      After posting I realized I had written the wrong name for the crafter who makes the ark. Owen is also one of our crafters who makes wonderful wooden farm toys, but the ark is made by an excellent woodworker named Gary. His first love is cabinetry, but his attention to detail makes his small crafts all the better.

      I should also mention something we don’t sell on our site. Several years ago we bought a book called Our Heritage, Hope and Faith, by Mary Miller. It contains prayers, poems, songs from the Ausbund, and all kinds of information about baptism, communion, weddings, funerals, and the selection of ministers. It even contains “Geistliches Lust-Gärtlein frommer Seelen” (Wholesome Instructions and Rules of a Godly Life), which I find myself turning to more and more as a daily devotional. When we add the books section to the site, we hope to offer this as well.

    29. Owl Toy craft

      Keith, glad you did, feel free to share anything like that here. I think people appreciate hearing about it.

      I visited at least one wooden toy maker while selling books in Lagrange/Elkhart Counties. I believe it was Owl Toy craft.

      Oldkat, I didn’t realize/forgot you’d been in touch with the Amish for so long. Makes me wonder what New Wilmington looked like back in 1983. It is still pretty rural now, but I’m betting there were only maybe 6 or 7 church districts back then vs. about 18 now.

    30. Cindy Elliott

      Recent Amish Purchase

      This weekend, I bought a lovely hanging basket from a local Amish greenhouse in northwest PA. You could tell the basket had been arranged with a keen attention to detail in bright colors of pink and white. I asked how late they would be open. She replied with a coy smile. “Until dark.” We had a good laugh on that one! Baskets hung in the greenhouse, outside on wooden display racks, and across the porch. Her husband helped out with customers as one daughter swept the sidewalk in her barefeet with a shy smile. Business was booming for the holiday weekend. The owner shared some tips on what works best for petunias–be sure to water regularly, hang in the shade and lots of TLC.:)

    31. Annmarie

      I bought 3 small baskets years ago from Lancaster, Pa. They still hang in my home and I still love them as much today as I did then. Recently I acquired some Amish decorative plates that I think my parents bought years ago from a trip made to Pa. One is of Amish school children playing and the other is a farm scenery. I absolutely adore them and look forward to hanging them up soon. Not only do I get to enjoy them b/c I love the simple lifestyle that they represent but I can think of my dad(whom has since past) everytime I see them.

    32. Debbie Welsh

      Oh, there’s just too many to mention! My husband will tell you his best find was when he finally found his English spade (shovel) at Kings on Newport Road in Intercourse, PA. My husband is from England and his chief complaint has been our ” odd and awkward ” shaped gardening tools, so he also jumped for joy when he found an English type hoe at the Kidron auction/flea market in Ohio, and is convinced, therefore, that the Amish really know their stuff when it comes to gardening because of it!

      I have to agree with Richard above that Kauffman’s on Rt. 340 in Bird-In-Hand, PA, has the best apple butter and apple cider in the country. And I’m giving away my secret place here but my favorite Amish farmstand for all my fresh produce and canned goods
      is the Stoltzfus’s at 96 S. Groffdale Road, Leola, PA ( directly across from Hayloft Candles and petting zoo ).

    33. Bob the Quaker

      If we rule out the Amish food purchases (and that is hard to forget) then a 5 year Diary I consider my best purchase. Not surprising, it was a Stoltzfus and reading about the everyday life was fascinating. Often repetitive chores, but still very interesting to follow the daily life on an Amish farm.

      I also agree with Debbie and Richard about Kauffman’s on Rt. 340.

      I’ll be in Lancaster in July. Hope Richard, Dan Endy, and anyone else might meet somewhere for coffee…I’ll buy !

    34. Bob if something odd happens and I make it up to Lancaster in July, I’ll take my coffee Amish black 🙂

      Hope you’ll get to catch up with some other folks on here either way though. And there is the forgiveness conference and evening talk in September at E-town which I’m planning to attend.

    35. Amish America discount

      Debbie thanks for spilling the beans on Stoltzfus. I should work out a deal to get some of these places to start giving the Amish America discount 🙂

      I’ve never tried Kauffman’s apple products, or maybe I have and just don’t remember. I did like their pies though…come to think of it, I do think I picked up a snitz pie there one time. No doubt it was good.

      I have the most experience with apples at an Old Order Mennonite place northeast of Leola. That’s where Amish friends like to get them and we’ve done at least a couple of trips there. I think others on here would probably know where I’m talking about, though I’m drawing a blank on the road right now.

    36. Cindy, great story and you related it well. I could almost picture the place. I do like the wittiness!

      Annmarie, wonderful that the plates have strong sentimental value too. Those have got to be the most valuable things.

    37. BAB

      I’m surprised that nobody has mentioned Cashew Crunch. My Amish colleagues know I will do anything for the buttery candy.

    38. Lisa Hyder

      The best thing I have ever bought was a Buffet and Hutch from a Amish auction at Washington County Fairgrounds in V.A.. My Grandfather and I go to this horse auction and also to Troutman N.C. to the Dixie Draft Horse Auction these twice yearly. I guess if you asked my Grandfather, he would tell you his best purchases would be the teams of horses he has bought. Oh and don’t forget the Red Velvet snake cakes those ladies make!

    39. What About the Hickory Rocker?

      The favorite purchase mentioned in the article was a Hickory Rocker, yet no one commented on how wonderful Amish Rockers really are!!! I have a very bad back and nothing has given me more comfort than my hickory rocker. My problem is I need a new one and can’t seem to find one anywhere. I live in the southeast corner of Michigan and I’m willing to drive hours for a fair price on a new rocker. Can anyone tell me where to go? Please help!!!

      1. Lyn Clarke

        Hickory Rocker 2018

        In response to the hickory rocker search. We were in Shipshewana, IN last week, Sep 10 – 14, 2018. We visited the Menno-Hof Center. In the gift shop of the Center, we found two rockers. Both rockers were made by Bill Yoder of The One Stop Rocker Shop, 1675N 675W, Shipshewana, IN. (260-768-3246). The one we bought is hickory. We think it is a work of art. Mr Yoder will make a rocker according to someone’s needs and specifications.

    40. Hickory Rockers in MI vicinity

      Christopher, you are right they are very comfy. If you’re in SE Michigan, you should be able to find someone in the St. Joseph’s County community, I would think…though I can’t say for 100% certain. That is the largest MI community with about 8 church districts, so I wouldn’t be surprised if they had a maker there. But maybe someone with more precise local knowledge can comment.

    41. Hilltop Hickory

      Christopher, Hilltop Hickory Furniture just outside Topeka, Indiana makes really nice hickory rockers, including an oversized model that’s 3″ wider than standard. Call Wayne Fry at (260) 593-2421, and tell him Keith from Amish Workshops sent you.

    42. Lee Ann

      I bought my bedroom set from the Amish in Minn. Its the best made furniture I have ever bought. Had it shipped to my home. Also bought handmade baskets from the kids and honey. I love buying things from the roadside markets.

      Wish I lived closer to the Amish communities, so that I could go and buy more from them. I would buy their pies and jam’s.

      My cousin had her home built by the Amish in Iowa, and they also built her cabinets in her house and laid the carpet. Although they put the carpet half way up the walls, and she came home shocked to see the carpet like that! : )

    43. Lee Ann

      I could use some help on where to get a piece of my bed replaced. A panel on the side cracked and I need it replaced on my sleighbed. Anyone know of where I can get it replaced in AZ? I bought it in Minn. from the Amish there, but need to get it replaced here. Any help would be appreciated.

    44. Esther

      My brother is an Amish cabinet/furniture maker from St Joe Co. Michigan. I have bought several pieces from him and they are all my favorites: china cabinet, roll top desk, dining room table, and a kitchen island which I can roll around!

      1. St. Joe County Amish furniture

        Esther I was just in St. Joseph Co Michigan last week. I wonder if I drove by his place.

        I visited an Amish-owned sawmill while I was there. If your brother sells retail and wouldn’t mind it, feel free to “plug” him here!

        1. Esther

          St Joe County Amish Furniture

          Eric, he has a sign out by the road “Yoder Woodworking” and is located on at 28272 Marvin Road. If the sawmill you went by was on Leply Road, then you were close to his neighborhood.

    45. Lee Anne

      My handmade & signed Clock from Kauffmans clock shop off Rt 340 PA
      Oatmeal cookies& doughnuts from Bird in Hand bakery
      Bird house I’m shameless you name it I love it from the Amish. I admire the way of life & wish I could afford a nice cotton quilt oneday.

    46. A HOUSE!

      The best thing I’ve purchased from an Amish family was our current home in Freedom, IN. We’re still new here, but the house is just amazing. Every inch is utilized well and there are fantastic cabinets and woodwork everywhere. The farm is perfectly thought out as well. We feel honored to be living here and to get our turn being a steward of the place that they built from scratch.

      1. Nice! Peter that is interesting, was this specially built for you, or previously Amish owned? I had the sense it was the latter…are the Amish growing or shrinking in your area?

        1. We bought it the farm from the Amish family that lived here. Seems like the Amish community here is getting smaller. Many who want to continue as Amish are looking for stronger communities in other places.

          1. Thanks Peter. I’d heard something similar about that community. It sounds like you’ve got a great place though, and Amish neighbors for at least the time being!