Woman looking at lamps at Lehman’s in Kidron (photo courtesy of Lehman’s)
Travel | Amish Country

5 Do-It-Yourself Destinations in Amish Country

The parts of our state that Ohio's Amish and Mennonite communities call home are infused with hard work and self-reliance. These destinations embody that do-it-yourself spirit.

Founded in 1955 as a store that served the Amish community, Lehman’s is now a destination for nonelectric items and homesteading supplies. 

The original hardware store opened by the late Jay Lehman in 1955 is still part of Lehman’s today. You can tell where it was by the wood-plank floors that creak underfoot on the east side of what is now a 35,000-square-foot destination for those seeking nonelectric items and ways to embrace a simpler, more sustainable lifestyle.

When it opened in the Wayne County community of Kidron, the store focused on serving the local Amish community. Today, Lehman’s has a vast selection of nonelectric items, from small lamps that run on oil to refrigerators that run on gas, but it has also grown over the years to stock kitchen items, pantry staples, toys, camping gear and more — all arranged into sections that make a visit an exploration as well.

Whether someone is just curious about starting their own garden or has progressed to the point where they’re ready to embrace living off the power grid, Lehman’s can assist them — as well as everyone in between.

“We want to help people take that next step … If you have no idea what you are doing, or you have 20 acres, and six cows and eight horses,” says Glenda Lehman Ervin, the store’s marketing director and the daughter of its founder. “When people come to us at the beginning of their journey, we want them to succeed.”

Those seeking to produce their own food frequently turn to Lehman’s for guidance. Ervin explains that between simple gardeners (who grow a little bit of food for themselves) and hobby farmers (who grow enough to sell some to others), there are homesteaders, who produce enough food to feed their families with only the occasional trip to the grocery store. Because of the way they live, their need for cash is less than many families.   

“They tend not to have credit, tend not to have fancy cars, tend to barter … and trade with the neighbors,” Ervin explains. “Think ‘Little House on the Prairie.’ In a way, it’s new and exciting and, in a way, it’s not, because that’s what people were doing 200 years ago. What has been lost is that legacy knowledge.” 

Lehman’s can help fill in those gaps, but it also knows that most people who visit for the first time are beginners. For them, Ervin suggests things like cheesemaking, candle-making and growing small plants in a raised-top garden. The latter doesn’t require much space and offers a way to take those satisfying first steps toward getting closer to your food.

“In my house, we grow a salsa garden,” Ervin says. We have tomatoes separately, then we have cilantro, chives, basil, rosemary and we make fresh salsa. So, that’s our step.” 4779 Kidron Rd., 44618, 800/438-5346, lehmans.com


Keim Home Center offers a wide variety of woods (photo courtesy of Keim Home Center)
Keim Home Center
Nestled in Charm, this home-improvement center includes a gallery of woods that has become a destination for woodworkers. 

Step through the front door of Keim Home Center in the tiny Holmes County village of Charm, and it’s immediately obvious that this store is different than the usual, big-box home-improvement retailer. The beautifully crafted stairways that lead to the store’s second level is just one of those indications.   

So is the sign near the door noting that the store closes at 4:30 p.m. on weekdays (so its employees can get home to their families for dinner). The 125,000-square-foot showroom is only open until noon on Saturdays and closed on Sundays, which also reflects the company’s values and how its employees are at the core of what makes Keim unique.

“I’ve worked in other companies and had a family business of my own, and it is just amazing how the people here care so much about taking care of everybody that comes in,” says Jim Smucker, who became president of Keim in 2019. “A lot of people will say when they walk in the door they can feel it, and you can.”

Robbie and Karen Keim are fourth-generation owners of the business, which Robbie’s great-grandfather founded in 1911. Robbie and his father, Bill Keim, were integral to the company growing into what it is today. The 50-acre campus in Charm not only houses the home center that stocks 65,000 individual products but also an on-site mill that produces lots of custom wood products, including molding and trim. Often, lumber from the mill goes to local craftsmen who create products that are in turn sold at the home center.

“One of the things that is important to us is being an important part of this community and marketing products that are made in this community,” Smucker says.

One of the most intriguing aspects of a visit to Keim Home Center is exploring the Woodshed, a section filled with specialty woods ranging from reclaimed barnwood to blocks of exotic species that grew in other parts of the world.

It is a destination for woodworkers and carvers alike and includes items such as long, rounded pieces of wood that can be turned into baseball bats and templates for popular guitar shapes available to those shopping for raw materials to craft their own musical instrument. The Woodshed, however, is not only the territory of the expert craftsman. It also includes tools and materials suited for smaller projects such as whittling and other entry-level forays into working with wood.

“We staff it with people who are woodworkers themselves,” Smucker says. “We have guys there who know what they’re talking about. People really appreciate that because they’re going to get expert advice.” 4465 St. Rte. 557, Millersburg 44654, 330/893-2251, keimhome.com


Woman doing pottery at Jack-Pot Pottery & Ceramic Supply in Millersburg (photo courtesy of Jack-Pot Pottery)
Jack-Pot Pottery and Ceramic Supply 
This downtown Millersburg spot offers classes for those who want to get creative, as well as clay and other supplies for at-home potters.  

Downtown Millersburg offers one of the few traditional main-street experiences travelers find while exploring Ohio’s Amish Country. Businesses along Jackson Street range from antique stores and a brewery to an ice cream shop and a farm-to-table restaurant. Tucked among them is Brittany Lee Sinnema-Jackson’s Jack-Pot Pottery & Ceramic Supply.

An experienced potter who graduated from Bluffton University with a degree in ceramics, Jackson operates an art studio that offers classes for those who want to take a spin on the pottery wheel. She is also a supplier of clay and glazes.

“We’re fully functional back here, from the clay and glaze all the way up,” Jackson says, motioning to the back of her downtown space, where a thin layer of dried clay is visible on the floor from a class earlier in the day. “Even if they decide to buy their own wheel or buy their own kiln, which they can from me, they can still get their supplies from me as well. We are the only clay distributor in northeastern Ohio right now.”

She offers five series of classes throughout the year that last six weeks each. A beginner’s class covers bowls, plates, cups, vases and more during its run.

“The last two weeks are self-guided, they get to work toward whatever they’d like to make,” Sinnema-Jackson explains, “which a lot of times has to do with making mugs and learning how to put handles on things and glazing.”

There is also a class suited to those who have been through the beginner course and just want to keep working on their craft. The studio also offers memberships that allow 24/7 access to the studio space.

Sinnema-Jackson adds that there are valuable lessons to be learned from the trial and error required as you begin to throw pottery on the wheel, including keeping a positive attitude when things don’t work out quite as expected.

“A lot of it is just sitting down, not beating yourself up and practicing,” she says. “If something flops, you can always reuse the clay. … with every little failure in life, you can learn something from it. That’s what ceramics is.” 144 W. Jackson St., Millersburg 44654, 419/792-0111, jack-potpottery.com 


People looking at leather at Weaver Leather Supply in Holmes County (photo courtesy of Weaver Leather Supply)
Weaver Leather Supply
A long-established leather supplier, this business opened a store in 2023 that also offers classes, take-home kits and leather-working machines. 

Cowhides in a variety of colors and textures fill the tables inside Weaver Leather Supply’s store in Millersburg. For leatherworkers, it offers the chance to see and feel the raw materials available, but the space was a relatively recent move for the company founded in 1973.

The business started by selling to manufacturers and businesses who used the leather to make products of their own, but within the past decade, Weaver Leather Supply found more individuals becoming interested in leathercraft.

“We’ve really seen a change in folks who are wanting to do more DIY. We talk about it as the Pinterest and Etsy era, but that’s truly what it’s become,” says Mae Miller, director of customer experience for Weaver.

Although it had long offered instructional videos and customer support via social media, the store, which opened in 2023, took that relationship to a new level.

“We developed a vision for being able to create a space where folks can come in and they can touch and feel these products,” Miller says. “[We wanted] to be able to have classes and host people here on-site.”

The inviting space inspires a curiosity about creating using leather. An adjoining room filled with tabletop machines — most made by the Weaver Master Tools brand — are available for purchase by those taking their leathercraft to the next level, but the store also serves novices looking to get started. 

Kits with instructions line one wall, while folks can make their own belt in the store. A side room hosts classes of various skill levels in which participants complete a project they take home with them that day.

“We have found there are some people taking these classes who are somewhat experienced and looking to level up their game,” Miller says, “We’ve also found people who are bringing their mom out and looking for an experience.” 7540 County Rd. 201, Millersburg 44654, 800/932-8371, weaverleathersupply.com


Interior of Carlisle Antiques and More in Holmes County (photo by Jim Vickers)
Carlisle Antiques and More
Those searching for vintage finds to create unique looks for their homes should carve out some time to explore this treasure-filled spot tucked away just off state Route 39.

If you’re looking for interesting items to decorate your home, a trip to Carlisle Antiques and More promises a fun treasure hunt. You also just might find something you can’t leave without.

The antiques warehouse sits on a hilltop along state Route 39 between Berlin and Walnut Creek. So set your GPS and keep an eye out for the metal buffalo sculpture tucked back from the road with the businesses’ name on it and an arrow pointing up the hill. Once you wind back to the hilltop parking lot, which also serves an adjoining manufacturing business, you’ll see an assemblage of furniture, buggy wheels and more just under the overhang of one of the buildings that let you know you’re in the right place.

What sets Carlisle Antiques and More apart is the quality of what you’ll find inside and the experience of exploring it. The 25 to 30 vendors who sell their wares here set up areas that invite deeper browsing, and the themes can vary greatly as you walk from one part to the next. One minute you’re in an area filled with vintage soda signs, the next you’re passing by a collection of antique hand tools. Owner David Hershberger selects the vendors with a focus on those who have experience and are motivated to sell.

“I didn’t know anything about antiques when I started,” says Hershberger, who runs the business with his daughter. “I was at a crossroads in my career and this place was open for rent, and I thought, ‘Well, I’ll give it a whirl.’”

The store makes it easy to spend a couple hours exploring the range of eras and finds. The item I couldn’t leave without was a 1966 Snoopy aviator figure complete with pilot cap and goggles. There’s a good bet you’ll find something you like here too. 3205 St. Rte. 39, Millersburg 44654, 330/473-7215, facebook.com/carlisleantiques