Monday, February 13, 2006

Even the Amish are on the Internet

Did you know that you can buy a genuine Amish buggy over the internet? I was in Arthur, IL (population 2,203) addressing their annual Chamber of Commerce banquet. I’d been to Arthur many times in the past. It is a favorite spot to take visitors, especially those from overseas. Besides being an Amish shopping center, it is also a very industrious town with 30% of the workforce involved in manufacturing, primarily in various wood working enterprises. Over 1,200 people drive into town each day to work, probably putting Arthur on that shortlist of towns that I’m finding where there are more people working in the town each day than sleep there at night.

Ervin Yoder, whose family helped to settle the region with Amish and local business leader now heads Economic Development for the town, told me, “We are the state’s largest outdoor shopping center. We have 100 square miles of shops.” And, he is right! Virtually every small Amish farmer has diversified into a small business in addition to farming. There are over 200 small businesses in Arthur, one of the highest concentrations/capita that I’ve seen. You will find woodworking, canvas making, quilts, farm produce, candy making, book binding, shoe repair and even buggy building. Paul Schrock told me to check out his website of where I saw Amish buggies from $429 to $3395.

When even the Amish are selling goods over the internet you know that this is a medium that is going to change how we conduct business.

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