Monday, January 23, 2012

More on Amish Businesses: Bulk Food Stores

My last two posts have highlighted Amish businesses since many people are looking at ways to earn extra income. Amish women to me are extraordinary because they have savvy business skills, either running their own small shops or record keeping for the family business.
Today I’m so excited to share with you about my friend, "Katie".  She has two greenhouses, which I’ll showcase in the spring and summer. Her husband built a bulk goods store across the street from their house for a source of income. When they married, he didn't want to take Katie away from her large family she loves so dearly. 
So along with Katie's two greenhouses and the store, they make a living. The dry goods store is only a year old but as you can see from the pictures, well stocked. The couple agonize over getting the best prices so they can pass the savings on to their Amish friends. It’s open to the public though, and their customers travel far to stock up, since their prices are one-fifth the cost of what is charged in stores. I really admire how they could be charging so much more, but don’t. They know most Amish families are large, and live off of approximately $35,000 a year.

Katie's antique cash register

On the back wall is canned goods and boxed cereal. Every nook and cranny is used.

 Many hours are spent measuring and "bagging up" dry goods.

Notice the men's Amish hats for sale at top of picture
Katie's greenhouses in winter.

The store is next to the barn where they keep their carriages and horses.

Thursday, January 12, 2012

Inside an Amish Herb Shop...Business Run the Amish Way

Something common among the Amish that’s misunderstood is their use of natural remedies. Tales abound that make them look uneducated or superstitious. I hope this post will help you see their back to nature approach to medicine  and another business run the Amish way. (Last post is about Granny's quilt shop).
Dan Byler has an herb shop in Smicksburg, PA, that draws customers from over an hour away. Why? Well, Dan is Amish and doesn't believe in charging more than what's fair. He also makes many of the herbal tinctures himself, keeping prices down. He sells popular lines of products too. I took a friend up to his shop and she pulled bottles off his shelves, hand on her hip in a huff. She held up a bottle and said, "My chiropractor charges 50 bucks for this!" Dan sells it for $20.00. So people are willing to pay the gas money, saying they save in the long run.
Dan is also very knowledgeable. He takes classes from English naturopaths. I love asking him a question just to see his keen mind at work. He goes into medical terms and anatomy as he leans over his counter, as animated as Doc from Back to the Future. I went up once to ask him about the pain shooting from my wrists. I suspected Carpal Tunnel Synrome, but he shook his head vigorously and ran over to the next room and pulled a mineral supplement off the counter. "You lack this," he said, putting the bottle in my face. "Take this and in two days your pain will be gone." Well, I did and the pain left.  My body obviously lacked this nutrient.
You see, the Amish believe God created the body to work properly if fed right. If God made our bodies, He expects us to take care of them and that includes proper nutrition. Organic foods are something they have naturally since many raise their own food and free range meat. Dan believes our foods are lacking nutrients and we need to get back to nature.
Dan's herbal tinctures

Dan makes a living in his tiny store. If several people are in it, it’s crowded. His excellent customer service makes you want to go back. (I pay half the normal retail price for my hyssop, a natural blood purifier, and if I return my little bottle, he’ll refill it for a discount.) Dan employs many of his grandchildren, teaching them all he knows. The Amish try to keep a business in the family, so you see three generations working side by side a lot. It's a good example of business run the Amish way.
                                         Every nook and cranny is filled with merchandise                       

Monday, January 2, 2012

Amish Women Entrepreneurs; Inside Granny’s Quilt Shop

The new year brings in new thoughts, and many think of starting a small business. Over the next few weeks, I’ll be sharing about Amish women who run businesses by doing things they love and how they succeed by treating their customers with respect.
I’ll start with Granny’s Quilt Shop, started by “Granny Weaver”. In my book, Knit Together: An Amish Close Knit Novel, you’ll see how Granny has a quilt shop. Well, I didn’t use my imagination at all; I used Granny’s real shop. Her son Roman built a shop next to her little dawdyhaus. It’s only the size of an enclosed porch, but filled with quality quilts, crocheted rugs, baskets, dolls, aprons and more that the whole extended family make, from children to the elderly.
What really impresses me about Granny’s store is that her prices are extremely low. I’ve noticed this in other Amish businesses. They come to a price they’re satisfied with and simply charge that amount. When I tell them they could get double, they don’t seem impressed. What I see are artisans who love doing their craft so much they feel that’s worth more than money. The Amish also don’t believe in overpricing their items either. If they get a good price for craft supplies, they pass on the savings.
The Amish I know aren't opposed to letting the English sell their items on consignment. Our online family business is looking into selling many of their items. They also aren't opposed to making things that they'd never use themselves.  I'm taking up measurements this week for PCs and Kindles so they can start making quilted covers for both. Super entrepreneural women.
Below are some pictures from Granny’s store with its many items. Maybe it will give you some ideas on starting your own small business.
Quilted wall hangings, placemats  and pot holders.

Over thirty quilts are on one bed in the store to save space. Amish women flip them over like
turning the pages in a  book.

Cross-stitch up close. Very even stitches.

Very unique pattern.

Amish women see what's marketable and make it. They know all about Vera Bradley.
I carry one of their purses, calling it my "Vera Miller". Extra-large purses are $20.00.

One of the ladies has a loom and weaves rag rugs.

This is one square on a quilt embellished with cross-stitch and straight stitch. 

The kids make cards to sell for extra money.

A crocheted rag rug.

Two of my many Amish baskets from Granny's store.

An Amish doll dressed in a "fancy" print dress. For some reason, they're more marketable, so the Amish make what customers want. I prefer traditional clothes, but couldn't pass this one up! She sits on my bed.

An apron my daughter bought from Granny for Mother's Day years ago.
 I hang it up in my kitchen, which is now teal to match the apron ;)