The Hutchinson News gives us a look inside Amish-owned 118-year-old Yoder Hardware & Lumber in Yoder, Kansas:
Yoder Hardware sits at the center of this town whose population fluctuates at around 200. Like the hardware store’s owner, much of the population in Yoder is Amish.
Because of the local presence of both Amish and Old Order Mennonites, the hardware store carries items that cater to this population, who do not use electricity from public utility lines, own a car, television or radio. Like many of his fellow Amish, Delmar Eash, the owner of the hardware store, uses gas and solar power to heat and light up the store.
How many retail stores are there out there at least 118 years old? I would guess that would put this one in the top 1%, if not .1% as far as age.
All photos by Sandra J. Milburn/The Hutchinson News
It’s unclear whether it’s been Amish-owned the whole time. Somehow I doubt that; I feel like that detail would have been included or we would have heard about it elsewhere. Still, it would be possible, as the Yoder Amish community is even older than the store – it had been around for 20 years already (founded 1883) when this place started up.
That’s owner Delmar in the photo above. By the way, “Delmar” is a common-enough Amish name in some Midwest communities. I seem to remember a good number of Delmars in Daviess County, Indiana.
What’s to be found in the store? Despite the name, it’s not all hammers and wood. Actually, the name is a bit of a misnomer when you learn that it has all this:
Eash carries dozens of oil lamps and lanterns, horseshoes, boots and ice cream makers. There are no power tools here.
The shelves are lined with flour sifters, butter holders, pottery crocks and a large selection of cast iron cookware. Red Radio Flyer wagons, washtubs and boards, hand meat grinders and sausage stuffers, shovels and drawers and drawers full of screws and nails are found throughout the century-old store.
“The local community is great and very supportive,” he said. “If they’ve got a small repair, instead of running into town, they can get it here.”
It sounds like this place draws a decent tourist inflow in normal times (though, not now) and I imagine that the store’s product line has evolved to cater to them. It may also be the case that some small-town hardware stores have traditionally carried more than just hardware.
We also learn a little detail reflecting the times: there’s been a run on canning supplies:
Unfortunately, like most other stores in the area, the hardware store is out of canning jars. Eash, like other small store owners, continues to try to get these supplies.
“We have been out of canning supplies for six months,” he said.
As soon as he can, Eash hopes to bring in these supplies. But meanwhile, the store sells many individually crafted hats, belts, sock dryers and aprons. Eash is thankful for the community support and hopeful that tourists will come back to this little town of yesteryear and appreciate the wisdom of a bygone era.
I had heard there was a lot more demand for canning and home-based food solutions due to the pandemic.
By the way (#2), if the name of this community is ringing a bell, we recently saw a report on another Amish-owned business here with a look at the R&E Country Store.
Check out the article and all 16 photos of Yoder Hardware & Lumber here.