Take a stroll off the beaten path and head down to Amish Country this weekend; you won’t be disappointed. I spent last Saturday morning in Kidron at Lehman’s, and I left wishing I had more hours to spend there. I hadn’t been in about 15 years, and while it has changed a great deal, it’s such an impressive place to visit. There is literally something for everyone. By the time you leave, you’ll want to buy a wood stove and live off the grid, plant a garden, and replace all your pots & pans!
Founded in 1955 by Jay Lehman, the store started as a combination gas station and hardware store, with the intent of selling non-electrical products to the Amish community. Lehman’s customer base increased rapidly during the 1973 oil embargo, and again during Y2K and the September 11, 2001 attacks. Each new disaster brought in new customers, including homesteaders, survivalists, and environmentalists looking for ways to live a simpler life. Those ideas still ring true at Lehman’s today. The products and ideas of yesteryear are promoted in a modern forum in order to attract historians and shoppers alike. Vintage signs adorn the walls, and familiar smells fill the air, changing with each new room you enter. The sizable store is filled with room after room of both hard-to-find and everyday items--products not only for inside your home but also outside in your garden. And the collection of antiques is massive. When you walk in, you’ll feel like you’ve stepped back in time. It’s like a museum you can shop in.
If you’re obsessed with kitchen gadgets like me, then this is the place for you. Just the wall of cookie cutters alone was worth the drive! There was also an impressive selection of cast iron cookware and every gadget you can possibly think of. A vast display of wooden spoons of every shape and size, and then...there are the stoves. Ah, the stoves! In addition to a vast array of antique stoves displayed throughout the store, there are vintage-looking stoves that are nothing short of beautiful. I wanted to go home, rip the boring, modern stove out of my kitchen, and replace it with a stove so ornate it can only be described as a piece of art. As my friend and I were admiring these stoves, we had the privilege of speaking with a woman who informed us that the box at the top of the stove was actually a bread warmer. She had one similar in her own home back in the 1940’s. She reminisced about her life growing up before, during, and after World War II, even noting that the cannon in front her school was melted down for bullets.
It’s easy to get lost in the nostalgia of the store as you pass the vintage items on display and the selection of long forgotten items for sale. Simply walking around Lehman’s is like taking a stroll down memory lane. There is even a selection of over 70 varieties of root beer and sasparilla sodas that will take you back to your childhood. For you bookworms, there is a section of books that will make you want to put on a pair of spectacles and read in front of a fire. Stacks of vintage books, worn and weathered, adorn the shelves along with rows of books for sale: children’s books, cookbooks, books on how to garden, how to live off the grid, and even raise ducks and chickens. Not only can you buy Amish noodles, fudge, jams, jellies and jerky, but there is also a cafe inside the store to refuel midway through your shopping day. There’s a toy store, a candy shop and even a room dedicated to Christmas year-round.
Be sure not to miss the room dedicated to the intricate wood carvings of a local Amish woodcarver. These amazing deep relief carvings are made from blocks of butternut wood by Holmes County resident Paul Weaver. Lehman’s proudly displays these unique, one-of-a-kind carvings in their store, so detailed they seem to come to life as you study them.
If you’re looking for a day trip to shop and reminisce, Lehman’s can’t be beat. Wear comfortable shoes, plan to spend the day, and bring your credit card; you won’t leave without buying something, whether you want to or not!