There was a comment posted by a reader yesterday on the Fountain Acre Foods thread that I thought I would share:
A few weekends ago, my husband and I traveled over 100 miles (one way) to go to Fountain Acre Foods, where we found the store closed on a Saturday because of a wedding of one of the workers. What a disappointment that was for us. We had planned this trip for almost two weeks, and I even Googled it to find where it was located. Why didn’t they inform the public (online) that the store would be closed that day? The man outside of the store told us that there were flyers handed out and posted for the locals to let them know about the store being closed for the wedding…but nothing posted on their website. With the price of gas, that trip turned out to be a very expensive letdown. Needless to say, I was very upset!
I’m not in any way downplaying the woman’s disappointment, but I want to use it as a teaching or at least “awareness” moment.
First of all, because the proprietors of the store are Old Order Amish they do not have a website or even an in-store telephone. The telephone they do have is in a shed off-property, but you can reach a recorded message from them at (765) 847-1897 and they do announce upcoming days they will be closed on that recording. Some Amish businesses do have websites run by non-Amish, but even that requires some religious concession if they truly believe that the internet is not something they want to have part of their life.
Now, all of this raises other questions, though: Should an Amish-owned shop serving a primarily non-Amish clientele do more to communicate with their customers (i.e. have a website) or even hire some non-Amish to run the store on occasions when the owners can’t be there? For instance, today – May 17 – they are closed due to Ascension Day. I’m sure there will be many disappointment customers showing up on this gorgeous afternoon only to find the doors locked. Personally, I think closing the shop for a religious observance is just part of maintaining their cultural authenticity. It’s very understandably frustrating, but I’m not sure they really should be expected to do more. I can tell you that on more than one occasion years ago I traveled close to two hours each way to visit Elizabeth Coblentz (Lovina’s Mom) only to find her not home. She didn’t have a phone and while I would try to write to her ahead of time to let her know when I was coming I knew that it was always a risk I took that I would arrive and she wouldn’t be there. It was frustrating, but I just viewed it as part of the price paid for doing business with the Amish. And, again, I do sympathize with our comment-poster…when I was driving two hours each way to Elizabeth’s, gas was probably $1.50 a gallon, so it wasn’t as expensive of a let-down if she were not home. What do others think?