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When Ole Mill Furniture opened 24 years ago, the Amish Heartland wasn't known for furniture yet. Now, with furniture shops in nearly every small town, the store stakes its claim in offering one-of-a-kind designs.
Since owner Leon Mast started in the furniture industry in the mid-1980s, his role in the business has changed with the times.
He began selling furniture his father bought at auctions and within five years, he was designing it and selling it in Charm at his store, Ole Mill Furniture.
Because most of the furniture sold at Ole Mill is locally made, Mast can work closely with builders who produce his designs, hashing out the details in demo products before they hit the sales floor.
"We create our own unique styles," Mast said. "That's something I enjoy -- designing and decorating."
Buying furniture from locals in Holmes County also has another perk -- a personal dedication and ownership of quality.
"Most of the local guys don't have a written warranty, but they just take care of it," Mast said.
Mast directs the artistic side of the business, coordinating the layout and decor of the store as well as tweaking furniture styles with his designs. JoAnn Chupp and Mast's newest employee, Andrew Yoder, assist customers, keep the place clean, manage inventory, unload furniture and do whatever it takes to keep the store running.
The three-person staff works for the store because it allows each worker to focus on the skills where they excel. Chupp said she loves working with people and finding out how she can put them first. Yoder said he plans to follow Mast's example because he's always loved to draw. Before Yoder began working at Ole Mill, he manufactured furniture.
"There's still a lot for me to learn about upholstered furniture," Yoder said.
Personalizing pieces has benefited Ole Mill Furniture as customers have been monitoring their budgets more closely in the last two years. Mast said the dip in customers has allowed him and the company to spend more time on customized orders.
Most often, Mast said he can work with customers who want to buy furniture in a size or finish not in the showroom pieces.
Mast also likes to bring rare pieces into the store, such as the Amish chevelle mirror, which features a hidden compartment for jewelry storage.
"We're always looking for unusual and different things," Mast said. "[The chevelle mirror] is a very functional piece too."
The store sells a variety of interior wares, including clocks, indoor and outdoor furniture, P. Graham Dunn products and a small gift line.
Ole Mill Furniture will be hosting an anniversary sale June 26 to July 3.
Ole Mill Furniture is located at 4422 SR 557 in Charm, OH. Store hours are Mon.-Wed. and Sat. 9 a.m.-5 p.m., Thu. 9 a.m.-3 p.m. and Friday 9 a.m.-8 p.m. For more information, visit the company Web site at www.olemillfurniture.com or call at 330-893-2823.