For me, the best kept secrets of the Amish world lie far from Lancaster and Paradise, although these are certainly beautiful and worth the trip. I prefer to visit the Amish who are tucked away in valleys and hollows and sometimes deep in the woods of Clinton, Centre, and Elk Counties in Pennsylvania.
Here you will discover Old Order Amish who excel at woodworking, boot making, and all of the usual expected art and workmanship of this wonderful people. My favorite thing to do is to shop at Amish stores—amid a myriad of finely crafted, inexpensive furniture, hand-done crocheting and various items dear to the Amish life. There are prayer kapps, bonnets, small mittens and discreet aprons. There are also very simple toys which are charming—coloring books, jacks, and small carved wooden farm animals. Spices are also interesting in an Amish store; they’re sold by bulk and are bagged, so that you can buy a ¼ pd. of sea salt and so forth.
And, you can find candied teaberries—which are a true treasure at Christmas and Valentine’s Day.
One of the most interesting experiences I had at an Amish store was at the King Family Store in Beech Creek, Pa…The Amish had gotten in a supply of very English products and were selling them for quarters, literally—sunscreen, top name hair products, make up, toilet bowl cleaners, sugary cereals, etc. It was funny to me because the Amish obviously didn’t use or value these things, and it got me asking myself why I did value them! But, I got a year’s worth of sunscreen for a dollar, and I had the secret pleasure of seeing a young Amish girl examine a can of top name hairspray before hastily putting it down at her fater’s call—it was a moment of interest that brought our two cultures together.
So, my advice to Amish tripping is to venture out further into the smaller towns of Pennsylvania and you may discover a new shopping obsession!
Kelly Long was born and raised in North Central Pennsylvania where there was an Amish hitching post at the small grocery store in her town. She loves to write Amish romance and is the author of a number of different novels including Threads of Grace, Sarah’s Garden, An Amish Love with Beth Wiseman and Kathy Fuller, and Lilly’s Wedding Quilt. She lives in Atlanta with her husband and children.
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