Where do the Amish buy groceries?
I recently drove Amish friends to a local Costco for a shopping excursion. It was their first trip to the retail mega-outlet. They had heard about the great deals and bulk quantities, two things that get a “thumbs-up” in Amish households. They were excited to go.
However spirits dropped when we learned about the membership fee. They weren’t sure they wanted to plunk down the $55 required for annual shopping privileges, especially without ever having been to the store. Luckily, it turned out an aunt had her own Costco pass. Even better, she lived right on the way to the store. She gladly joined our shopping party.
My friends weren’t the only Amish shoppers that evening. Buggies stood parked at the carriage stall tucked into one corner of the crowded lot, and a few Amish shoppers milled about inside. As I went out to the car to try to catch a few Zs, my friends scoured the aisles.
A short while later, a knock on the window canceled my sleeping plans. It was time to load the trunk. I saw they wouldn’t be leaving empty-handed–in fact it would take many hands to get their haul in and out of the vehicle. Success!
While a trip to a larger retail store–often found in towns or cities–may not be as easy as one to a more local shop, Amish do frequent Costco and similar outlets. Other times, they shop closer to home. Here are 3 places Amish do their grocery shopping:
- Large Retailers – In addition to Costco, food outlets like Wal-Mart Supercenters are popular, as are “regular”grocery stores. Some Amish are fortunate enough to live within easy buggy range of these places. Others hire a driver.
- Bent ‘n’ Dent Outlets – If you don’t care about expiration dates, Bent ‘n’ Dent stores (aka salvage stores) are perfect for stretching the dollar. The caveat is that the items might be near or past expiration. Or the packaging may be damaged. Amish people run bent-and-dents. BB’s Grocery Outlet is an Amish-owned salvage seller with four locations in southeastern Pennsylvania.
- Local Bulk Foods Stores – These are also often Amish-run. Bulk foods stores repackage larger amounts into smaller portions. You can find spices, nuts and dried fruit, cooking ingredients and canning supplies in these stores. They also may sell conventionally-packaged items. With a lot of mouths to feed, Amish appreciate “bulk”.
Where else have you seen Amish shop for food?
Erik Wesner writes about the Amish in print and online. His first book, Success Made Simple: An Inside Look at Why Amish Businesses Thrive was based on 60 interviews Erik conducted with Amish business owners, as well as his own experiences living and working in Amish communities from Pennsylvania to Iowa. He has contributed to Amish-themed articles featured in Entrepreneur Magazine, The Wall Street Journal, The Washington Post, and other print media. He also has served as a consultant for numerous authors of Amish fiction and non-fiction and writes the Amish America blog. His upcoming book is called 50 Fascinating Amish Facts.
Purchase Erik’s book here.