Wednesday, February 22, 2006

College Experiment into Nationally Known Institution

“It started as a four day Arts & Crafts Event and today brings in over 200,000 people/year,” Dick Pletcher, owner of Amish Acres, was explaining to me how he started this 80 acre historic Amish Farm ( in Nappanee, IN. “My Dad was in the furniture business in the downtown and I was in college at IU in Bloomington. That was 44 years ago. We were asked to leave by the other merchants because all of these people coming to town wanted to use their bathrooms. The customers kept asking us for Amish goods. Starting Amish Acres was a lifelong dream of Dad and me.”

“Amish Acres started out as a hobby for us. We were in the retail furniture business for 65 years, liquidating it in 1995 to concentrate on Amish Acres. Dad still helps out at age 92. We’re now transitioning the business to my 2 daughters and a son-in-law.”

Pletcher laughingly told of how he violated the three keys to business in turning Amish Acres into a local institution, “First: Location, location, location; Second: Give the customer what they want and Third: Profit should be your number one motive. We didn’t do any of them, but it has all worked out just fine.”

He has written a book on his journey: This Wooden O: The Story of Amish Acres, "Plain and Fancy," and the Round Barn Theatre. He also has started a blog, which you can access at

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