Shipshewana, Indiana, is a small town in the northeastern part of the state. The population of the town is just over 650 people. The surrounding rural area, however, is part of the third largest Amish community in America. About 30% of the citizens are part of this group. Many of the stores carry Amish-influenced goods, while the restaurants serve Amish favorites.
Since 1922, the Shipshewana Auctions have been drawing crowds of buyers. Originally, only livestock were auctioned, while today antiques and collectibles have been added to the list. Miscellaneous and antique items, along with livestock, are offered on Wednesday; the horse auction is on Fridays.
In addition to the auctions, the Midwest’s largest flea market is held on Tuesdays and Wednesdays from May through the first of October. The 900 booths cover 100 acres. The huge attrction multiplies the town’s population many times over on flea market days.
Nearly every summer, I go to Shipshewana with someone from my family to visit the flea market and our favorite stores. On this visit, my husband joined me. Our trip was outside of the flea market season, so our main activity was shopping in the stores.
Although it is important to think about buying experiences rather than things, sometimes we still like to shop. We do need to be mindful about our purchases, though, watching our budget and thinking about the accumulation of clutter.
Shipshewna has several gift and craft stores. There are stores with fine Amish-made wood furniture. However, our primary purpose in going to Shipshewana was to shop for food. We enjoy the high quality and reasonable prices that are found at our favorite stores.
Starting in Goshen
We drove to Goshen, Indiana, on Sunday afternoon and spent the night. Monday was our shopping day. Here is what we did:
We started our day at Reverie Yarn Shop in Goshen, Indiana. The shop was lovely – gifts on one side and yarn on the other. The two clerks, Rosemary and Trish were a delight.
The shop carries a line of beautiful French linens. There was also Polish pottery – cups, bowls and plates – that I would enjoy using in my home. The new items were mixed with antiques and other unique gifts.
The shop stocks yarn by Malabrigo, Madelinetosh, and others along with a good selection of Cascade and Berroco yarns. There were sample projects scattered throughout the store. Although I’ve been trying not to buy yarn without a project in mind, I couldn’t resist a skein of luscious alpaca tweed yarn.
We left Goshen and started the 20 minute drive to Shipshewana. Ten minutes later, we passed through Middlebury, and about half way from Middlebury to Shipshewana we found the Deutsch Käse (Cheese) Market. Of course, we had to stop. The many varieties of locally made cheese were very tempting but we limited ourselves to just four packages.
Finally, we arrived in Shipshewana. Our first stop was Yoder’s Shopping Center. Yoder’s, located in a large building, includes a hardware store and a department with a great quilt and fabric section.
I’ve shopped in the quilt section before, and although I’ve been knitting more than quilting lately, I still love to look at all the new fabrics and finished quilts. I found some retro toweling fabric that I couldn’t resist.
My husband had started with me in the quilt store, but soon made his way to the hardware store. I joined him there, perusing the variety of kitchen utensils, canning supplies, and cast iron cookware.
Our next stop was Davis Mercantile. The Davis Mercantile building burned to the ground thirteen years ago, but it was rebuilt beautifully. The building contains four floors of retail shops, including Lolly’s, the second large quilt shop in the small town.
I’ve shopped at Lolly’s Quilt Shop several times in the past. I keep hoping they will add yarn to their inventory. As I walked through the store this year, I was especially intrigued by the wool fabric. Intrigued, but not tempted – I’m saving my money for the next yarn store I come across.
We ate lunch at the Blue Gate Restaurant, an Amish-style eatery in the center of town. The food was delicious and we made a quick stop (with only a small purchase) in their bakery before we left.
Although we had made a few purchases in the morning, we began our serious shopping after lunch. Every time we visit Shipshewana, we stop at E & S Sales – this time was no exception. E & S is a grocery and bulk food store. The store carries high quality products – meat and cheese, produce, canned and dried foods, bulk grains and candies, and more.
When my girls were small, we would buy a bag of “cereal marshmallows” so the girls could add them to the unsweetened cereal I usually bought. I couldn’t help but laugh when I saw the 9 1/2 pound bag on the shelf. (We never bought that many).
My husband and I bought flour, sugar, nuts, molasses, soup mix, and a little candy – oh, and a few more things. We stopped back later for the taco seasoning requested by one of my daughters. We are empty-nesters so we had to be careful that we didn’t buy too much of something that wouldn’t keep. It’s probably a good thing the store isn’t closer to home- I’d go broke.
Our last stop in Shipshewana was Yoder’s Meat and Cheese Company. Again, we went a little crazy. Buffalo, smoked salmon, and Canadian bacon were some of the unique items we found. We also bought a little more cheese, some pickles, and the bag of kettle corn my husband had been looking for.
We drove back through Middlebury, so we could eat at Das Dutchman Essenhaus. The restaurant, established in 1971, offers family style, buffet, or regular menu dining. The establishment has grown from one small building to include a large restaurant and bakery, a conference center, several gift shops, miniature golf, and, most recently, a theatre and music venue.
We browsed through the gift shops, visited the bakery and then sat down to another delicious meal. It was a great way to end this busy day.
Shipshewana is located less than 10 miles from the Michigan border. It is at the intersection of State Road 5 and County Road 16. There are several hotels and bed and breakfasts in Shipshewana, Middlebury, and other surrounding towns. For more information, visit Shipshewana.com.
I hope you enjoyed hearing about our day, but even more, I hope you are able to check out Shipshewana someday yourself!