When you’re traveling on U.S. 43 in southern Middle Tennessee, you’ll probably share the road with a horse-and-buggy or two. The town of Ethridge, about an hour south of Nashville, is an Amish community and a big tourist draw. I met some Nashville friends there over the Fourth of July weekend for what we do best: Eating, shopping and talking. Two of the three were successful, since we ate and talked with no problem whatsoever. But the shopping? Meh. Several buildings proclaiming “Amish crafts” and “Handmade Amish goods” hug the highway, but I’m suspicious. And yes, I know: I’m always suspicious. But this time I had good reason, I think. We were expecting to find gotta-have examples of folk-art, but we didn’t. We could have been in any craft shop anywhere — nothing said “I’m special! I’m different! Take me home!” I did spy some wonderfully whimsical furniture, but nothing else impressed. Maybe it’s our perception — when I think “Amish,” I think of high-quality American folk-art, but what we found instead was the same ol’-same ol’. Nothing wrong with that, but we were disappointed because we expected more. You know? We did browse through a nearby flea market, loaded up on Amish-made cookies, bread and candy (or maybe that was just me) and enjoyed an ice-cold Coke out of an ice-cold glass bottle just like we all grew up with. That — and hanging out with my friends — was worth the trip. Check it out yourself at http://www.tnvacation.com/vendors/amish_country_mall/
Hiya! I’m new to your blog, and wanted to say I really enjoy it!
I totally get what you mean about the same ol’-same ol’… we live in a pretty “tourist-y” spot ourselves and every little shop claims to have “handmade Island this” and “authentic Island that” – but it all looks the same. Disappointing. I always expect to be impressed with a high quality, unique piece, but the next shop over has the same thing. I want more, and I live here!
That little lamp is pretty cute tho! : )
Cathy – I bought that rocking chair in Vermont, however, made by an Amish man in Ohio. That is one of the most comfortable rocking chairs to sit in. It is even good for my lower back, which often gives me abit of an ache.
How much fun is it to see it online!! 🙂
I know — that was my favorite find. And you’re right — it was so comfortable! Did not want to get out of it. The other things? Not so much.
Amy — absolutely agree.
I’d love to get to see all this in person someday!
Did you spy any “made in China” stickers on the “Amish” goods? I always caution my visitors when they are roaming the local Anchorage gift shops to check carefully for the Polar Bear logo (made in Alaska). So much gets over here from China and I will not support any country that poisons babies and animals.
On the flip side, I am glad you gals had a great time. There is NOTHING like an ice cold Coke on a hot day. The flea market sounded fun!!
Lecia — come on down! Or, over.
And Ina — you are so right about everything: Checking labels, not supporting toxic poisoning and having fun with friends. So true.
I live near an Amish community and it’s fun the first couple of times you go. After that, meh, is right. And I did spy some “made in china” stickers on a lot of items in many of the stores. After a while, it’s easy to spot the real deal. And the real deal is always worth it.
Glad you had fun on your day out!
To get the really quality Amish items near Ethridge you need to take the backroads west of US43. Look for signs and ask some of the Amish that you see. I’ve purchased some beautiful quilts and had some custom furniture built in that area. It’s excellent quality but it’s not cheap.
Excellent advice, Jim. Thanks so much.