While I would love to tell you everything there is to know about the Amish, I don’t think that anyone has the time. Nor does anyone really know the whole story. I will instead tell you of my experiences with several of my friends who just happen to be Amish, and throw in a bit of history, as well.
The Amish get their name from the founder of their movement, Jacob Amman. Jacob was born in 1644 in Switzerland. He believed in preserving traditions and staying “more separate” from the world and all of its modernizations. He wanted to restore some of the early beliefs and practices of the Mennonite people of the same era. After their split from the Mennonites in the late 1600s, the Amish began to make their way from Switzerland to the United States in the early 1700s. They have settled all across the U.S., with population estimates ranging from 150,000 to upwards of 190,000. There are several large settlements of Amish east of the Mississippi. While Pennsylvania is believed to be the largest settlement, Wayne and Holmes County in Ohio are home to the largest settlement. Other areas include Indiana, Iowa, Wisconsin, and even Montana.
All of the Amish furniture that you see in our showroom (with the exception of one builder from Wisconsin) comes from the two largest settlements of Amish in Indiana and Ohio. Each builder is hand picked by myself and my associates. Just as there is good and poor quality manufactured furniture, there is also good and poor quality Amish furniture. Each year, I take several weeks and go scouring the countryside in these communities to find the best of the best. I will never forget the time Tina and I took our kids with us on one of these trips. We stopped at one of my bedroom builders. While Tina and I talked with the builder, my kids were getting to know his kids. It happened to be his oldest boy’s birthday that day. He was about the same age as my oldest. When she asked him what he got for his birthday, he looked puzzled and asked, “what do you mean?” She replied with, “what presents did you get?” He answered with a grin, “I didn’t get any presents, but I don’t have to do any chores today and I get my favorite foods for supper!” I think both of my kids realized that our way of life is very different from the Amish. Despite the differences, both my children have grown up with a great deal of respect and appreciation for the Amish.
We carry only Amish furniture that is made in true Amish shops. There are several “manufacturers” out there that claim to be Amish, when in fact they may have some Amish craftsmen working in the shop, but it’s not truly all Amish. Next time you’re in a store that sells Amish furniture, ask if you can have the phone number of the Amish shop that makes the piece of furniture you’re looking at, call the number, and see if a receptionist answers. Hmmm. Would a true Amish shop have a receptionist? Most all of the shops that we deal with have no electricity or fancy offices. You can’t just pick up the phone to check on an order.
In most cases you have to leave a message on a voice mail and wait for them to check their messages when they get to the phone. Several of the builders that we deal with are strictly mail-based. It can take several days or a week just to check the status of an order. I do have some shops that have a phone in a booth at the end of their driveway. But for most of them, it is a quarter mile or more to the nearest phone.
I have made several Amish friends in the past 20+ years of doing business with them. A few times a year you will see me out in one of the Madison restaurants with them as they pass through town either on business visiting their dealers or just passing through when visiting relatives. While they do drive horse drawn buggies back home, when they travel long distances they usually hire a driver and all pack into a full-size van.
Several of the shops that we deal with do not do their own finishing. This is done by another Amish shop. This is by far the most important part of what separates us from all the other stores that sell Amish furniture. All of the furniture that we sell can be stained and finished to your liking – in more than 25 different options. From regular staining to painting, or from glazing to distressing; just because it’s Amish, doesn’t mean that we can’t do the trendy new finishes for today’s modern home.
Please feel free to browse the site. Come back often as we will update it once a month. Also feel free to contact us should you have any questions about the furniture we carry, the finish that is on it, or the people and shops that build it. We have no secrets and will be glad to tell you all that you wish to know. Any store that won’t tell you these things may be hiding something. We have built a reputation in southern Wisconsin as the premier place to buy Amish handcrafted furniture. And because we have over 130 Amish shops building for us, nobody has more to choose from.
Thanks for taking the time to read this page. I hope it has been informative. If you have any questions or comments please feel free to contact us.
A note about Amish Puppy Mills:
Don’s Home Furniture & the staff of DHF do not in any way support businesses, Amish or otherwise, known to be puppy mills. The owners have personally been to the shops of all the Amish we work with to ensure no puppy mills exist at these shops. While a family dog may wander away through the farm fields and come back expecting puppies, dogs are not bred or birthed for profit in these shops; the process is left to Mother Nature, as the Amish believe it should be. The Amish communities we associate with are primarily “furniture communities”; meaning that almost everyone in the community is involved in the building of furniture, regardless of age or sex. Just like any other group of people, there will always be some that do bad things; this is true of the Amish community just as much as in our own communities. To blame all Amish for the choices of some is not just or right. We look into our Amish shops personally for everyone’s benefit.