Yesterday we were in Kidron, Ohio, the heart of the Ohio Amish country, to visit Lehman's Hardware and buy a natural gas refrigerator. I have never been there before and I was totally surprised by what we saw. I knew there were Amish in that area and that Lehman's started out as a supply place for non-electric items for the Amish lifestyle. What I did not know was that the Amish community in that area is thriving! There seemed to be as many buggies and horses on the road as there were cars. We saw beautiful farms, new homes that had no electricity, Amish schools, horsedrawn plowing being done, Amish women mowing grass (one was a granny on a riding mower!). We even saw a wagon stuck in a ditch--evidently their load shifted. They had unhooked the horses and one man was hoofing it up the road to get help. We saw a woman in a buggy eating take-out food (fries); we heard people talking in a language we didn't understand but which I believe is called Pennsylvania German. It was eye-opening.and ear-opening.
I'd like to go back to explore the area a little more. I had thought it was all tourist hype, but instead found a thriving culture. And all only 2 hours from home.
As for that refrigerator--Lehman's offers several different sizes by two different companies. All are expensive. I tried to figure out which one was best through their online catalog and their paper catalog but I was not sure, and it was a lot of money to spend without being sure. So I knew we needed to visit in person. We found the store with little trouble--it's big and seems geared mainly to tourists although there is still plenty there for the Amish customers. But the parking lot was filled with cars, not buggies, and the atmosphere was that "commercial country," as I call it. We walked back to the appliance area and found the fridges, but what I had hoped for was to be able to compare the 15, 17 and 19 cubic foot models to really see what space was available. I'd called earlier in the week and left a message saying what I needed. I got a call-back message (not at the time I specified when I called so I missed the call) assuring me the fridges were on display.
Well, some of them were, but not the 17 cubic foot. I found a salesman and asked him if they had one. "Oh yes--at our other store." Other store? Who knew? He gave us basic directions and we set out for the other store. I wasn't too happy about having driven 2+ hours to find out I had to drive still more to see what I needed to see. The route was through beautiful country, though, so that was consolation.
We found the second store after a few wrong turns and indeed they had the models I needed to compare. the 17 cubic foot model (at $2099!) was the one I wanted. It's about the same size as the fridge we have now, with the nice feature of being able to hold gallon-size jugs on the door. I found a salesman and told him we were ready to order.
It turns out he had never placed an order for an out-of-state customer. But he was willing to figure it out and after several calls and a consultation with another staff person, we got going. Then the snag--we wanted it delivered to our house. Now, Lowe's, Home Depot and many other places have no problem with that. I was willing to pay their advertised delivery fee of $175. The problem? They weren't sure they could deliver to my house--and weren't sure if the fee would be $175.
Hunh? That was the amount listed on both website and catalog! "Yes," said the woman clerk, "but we don't really pay attention to that?" What!? Really? I was stunned--why advertise it if that's not the cost? We could have driven our truck up, of course, but decided that delivery was a better option and the cost seemed fair. Now we were being told that it was not a relevant fee? After more phone calls and discussion, it was determined that they could indeed deliver and for the stated price. Whew. I was not feeling like a happy camper by this point, although out clerk was as friendly and helpful as he could be throughout.
So the fridge is ordered and paid for and should arrive sometime next week. Getting it into the house should be interesting.
I should say that the second Lehman's was much more what I expected--a local hardware store with just about everything you can think of, even replacement racks for water-bath canners! I bought two because mine are rusted and pretty much done for. You could also buy shower curtains, eye hooks, hinges, lamp chimneys, canning jar rings, candy, paint and just about anything else you can imagine, but without so much of the tourist atmosphere. Many Amish customers were in and out while we were there. One man was getting a piece of glass cut--it's that kind of place. The other store may well offer all of the same merchandise and services, but it's BIG! I liked the smaller store much better--felt right at home.
Although getting the fridge was more hassle than I expected, I cannot say enough about the friendly staff--they're great. As a home canner, I loved being able to order canning jar lids in bulk this year; 354 lids so I never ran out. That was absolutely awesome. If you're planning to buy some major appliance, though, maybe more advance phone calls would simplify the process. I learned that lesson but in the end I am glad we went up there, and I am excited about the new refrigerator that will help lower our electric bill significantly.