The Fort Wayne Journal-Gazette (hmmmm, I could tell some stories about this paper...but that's a post for another day:) ran a fun story that I'll talk about in a second. But while I am on the topic of the J-G, I will say it just AMAZES me that a small city like Fort Wayne still is holding on to TWO daily newspapers (the J-G in the morning, the News-Sentinel in the afternoon, which The Amish Cook runs in.). It truly is an anachronism in today's world when most cities are struggling simply to hold on to their one daily. Any Fort Wayners reading this have any thoughts? Which daily do you subscribe to and why?
Anyway, the J-G ran an article about Amish-owned businesses and stores in today's paper. Click here to read it. How many of you have been to any of the businesses featured in the article? Site regular, BarbW, I know is a fan of Country Lane Bakery in Middlebury. I have never been there. I have been to E & S Sales in Shipshewana. That's an Amish bulk food store on steroids. But they do a great job, as evidenced by the large Amish population that patronizes the shop (that's often how you can tell the touristy places from the genuine, local authentic places..if you see a lot of Amish customers, that is a good sign). I really do like E & S and love browsing their vast and varied aisles. What's tricky for Amish businesses is dealing with growth. If products become so popular and they have to keep expanding and mechanizing their processes to produce the product, it runs the risk of losing its original charm. This is a problem that any small furniture or food business - Amish or non- can experience (I am sure Col. Sanders homemade chicken tasted a heck of a lot better than the KFC of today) but it is especially an acute issue for Amish furniture and food entrepreneurs because in addition to selling food they are also selling charm and a way of life. If that charm disappears in the buzz of an electric saw or the conveyor belt of a mechanized bakery, then they lose something.
One of my absolute favorite combination bulk food stores and Amish-owned bakeries is the Keim Family Market in Adams County, Ohio. Adams County, Ohio is still one of my favorite Amish settlements because of the area's hardscrabble beauty and Keim Market really is the real deal...not too touristy and with homemade baked goods that are incredible. Click here for a tour of Keim Family Market. Sometime I'll post a video of the actual backroom of the bakery where the food is prepped.
I wonder how much favorable laws help these businesses. In my home state, I'll bet most of these places would be put out of business by regulation and taxes. (The closest bulk food store I'm aware of is 2-3 hours away, in another state.)
I'd be curious to know how many of the goods are produced in commercial grade kitchens, and how many come out of home kitchens. Years ago my mom made pies to sell to a local diner - no way anyone can do that now. It's a shame, really.
Sara in IN
Thanks for the link to the Fort Wayne Journal-Gazette story. I've been to many of those places and definitely echo your thoughts on E&S Sales.I'm still not sure how I like E&S since it expanded : the produce manager should know enough not stack 50# bags of potatoes bagged in mesh onion bags outside, although I did appreciate the expanded gluten free section.
Over on the west side of the state, northeast of Lafayette there is a small German Baptist Brethren community from Camden to Rossville and thereabouts. I frequent a bulk store, Maple Leaf Country Store and the 218 Produce Market, out in Carroll County. It's not the selection of Shipshewana or Kidron, but it's about 15 miles away versus 150 miles away. Wish I could still eat some of the lovely baked goods though - the cinnamon bread is wonderful.
Sara, welcome to amishcookonline! You are lucky, I am familiar with that German Baptist community and would love to visit! I often find the most "authentic" cultural experiences are enjoyed at the more out of the way locales...the touristy places tend to, well, cater to tourists....
I live in the area as well and have found the Rossville area to be a wonderful place to visit. Favorites of mine are the Skiles Farm Market and the Flour Mill Bakery. Would you mind sharing the location of the places you mentioned?
Betsy, I haven't been to the Maple Leaf Country Store, but there are signs to it off of Indiana 75, north of Flora and south of Camden. I travel that route a lot on my way from my home in Huntington to my daughter's home near Jefferson, and I've often wondered about that store. Now I'm going to have to make time to stop there! My guess is that the 218 Market is on IN 218 near Camden - must be west of IN 75, as I've not seen it. But I come into Camden from the east on 218 and turn on 75...
Sue, good to see you here! Let us know if you stop at that store and what sort of baked goods and goodies they have. If I ever get the chance, I'd love to spend some time in that Old Order German Baptist community....
I'm headed that way again on Feb 25th. I'll try to stop on my way to or from and make a report.
Kevin I liked your point about losing the charm especially considering that is a big selling point of the experience of patronizing Amish businesses. I've been in a few Amish businesses that have gotten so large they nearly feel corporate. At the same time some big ones manage to hold on to that small scale aesthetic. I actually just ran across this article today about the Indiana markets. Do you know of any urban/suburban Amish markets in Indiana in the same vein as the East Coast Lancaster PA Dutch markets?
Hi, Erik - Can't think of any in Indiana like the ones in Lancaster Co. Of course there is the Shipshe flea market, but that really doesn't have much of an Amish ambiance other than its location. There was another attempt to start an exhibition hall with Amish vendors in Shipshe but it crumbled under the weight of the recession....Alymer, Ontario has a really run-down twice-a-week market with some Amish vendors, but I've just not run into anything on par with Lancaster County PA Dutch markets out here!
I love Keim's. We go there quite often. They have the best lemon turnovers ever. They have quite a few things there that you can't find at other places. I love Adams Co. Amish.
Dianne, welcome to the new website and I am totally with you on Keim's...love the place! Lemon turnovers??? Sounds awesome, I have never seen those...but I'll be stopping by at Keim's in a weeks and will take a look!:)
Kevin....I live in northwest Ohio about 10 miles east of the Indiana line, and am a "transplanted Hoosier" after getting married to a Buckeye almost 18 yrs ago. I am a subscriber to the Ft. Wayne Journal Gazette and only get it on Sunday mornings. I also live about 25 miles from an Amish community in Grabill, Indiana. There is the Grabill Country Store, which is a big bulk store with all sorts of dry goods in bulk, canned jellies, fruits, cheeses, homemade peanut butter and homemade pies, cookies, breads, and rolls. They even make their own ice cream in the summer...my favorite is the lemon ice cream. They also have a small buffet for dining every day of the week except Sundays, when they are closed. Across the street is the Grabill Inn that is a restaurant with awesome meals. The town of Grabill is planning on adding motels, restaurants, and other establishments to the Grabill area to bring in more tourists. But this is planned for the near future.
I am planning on visiting Kleim's Market as soon as the weather moderates. I checked it out online already, and it sounds like a great place to visit.