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Two neighboring stores, both owned by the same family.
Pulling into the joint parking lot, especially during the peak season of October, is difficult to say the least. Between the mass of people and the distraught drivers trying to maneuver around them, it can be a nerve-racking task just to get from driver's seat to store.
But after stepping foot into the aroma-filled shop, courtesy of its best-selling candle "Buttered Maple Syrup" which burns throughout the day, all the stress of people-dodging done in the parking lot disappears.
Customers are greeted with a friendly smile and a welcoming environment. The store is decorated, floor to ceiling, with knick-knacks, artwork, furniture, home dcor, tableware, candles and well...Crocs, the comfortable trendy footwear.
Amish Country Peddler and Homespun Treasures are two, family-owned, neighboring businesses. Homespun Treasures was started in 1993 by David Schlabach. Roughly a year later the Schlabach family purchased what is now Amish Country Peddler.
Although both stores have the warm and inviting atmosphere of a well-decorated home, there are several main differences between them.
"The main difference is that Homespun Treasures is primitive in dcor and products while Amish Country Peddler has more of a cottage country style," said Tim Schlabach, David's younger brother and manager of Amish Country Peddler.
"Both stores have the same categories in terms of products, but they each have very different looks."
Tim has worked with both stores for the last 15 years. While he heads up Amish Country Peddler, his mother, Lois, manages Homespun Treasures.
According to Tim the biggest success for either store over the years has been in regard to its constant business.
"Business has continued to grow and be successful over the years," Schlabach said. "That's felt good."
There is plenty of competition in the area, though. As the store resides between Berlin and Walnut Creek, tourists and locals are given many choices to do their shopping.
"There are a lot of stores that have similar products. But good, healthy competition helps us stay on our toes," Schlabach said. "There is plenty of business for all of us. If everyone works hard to do the best they can with their store, then there's no reason why we can't all survive and profit together."
When it comes to choosing products for the store itself, Tim admits to having some difficulty on occasion.
"There have always been product lines that you think will be successful and they're not," Schlabach said.
Essentially it's a learning process.
It's obvious that the store welcomes the upcoming holiday season, however. Nearly all products are winter and Christmas-themed as it is just around the corner.
"We really like to fill the store with great holiday dcor. We have a great variety and great products," Schlabach said. "It's a great atmosphere, especially as people are getting ready for the holidays."
Tim explains that apart from the shopping, his customer's also like to stop in for decorating ideas.
It's well-known that fall brings in the majority of Amish Country tourists; however, the business peaks for a little while during the winter months as well.
"It really just depends on the weather," Schlabach said. "If the weather is OK the stores still get tourists and locals coming through."
Although Tim doesn't have any major future plans for either store, he does have a constant ideas for improvement.
"We're always seeking new and unique products. We want to continue to give customers new things and new ideas for decorating."
Enter the Croc line.
One of the bigger sellers for Amish Country Peddler, apart from the home dcor, is the Croc shoes.
"They are very successful for us. We have the largest selection in the state of Ohio," Schlabach said.
The idea came four years ago. Tim took a trip to Vermont and he noticed that nearly everyone was wearing Crocs.
It started as a small product, something Tim believed could be used to supplement the store's other sales. But before long it grew.
"It's working for us," Schlabach said. "I know it's odd having furniture and home dcor next to them but this is what people are wanting, so that's what we're going to do."
Amish Country Peddler and Homespun Treasures are located on SR 39 between Berlin and Walnut Creek. To view products online visit www.homespunwalnutcreek.com. Call 330-893-2134 for more information. Store hours for both locations are Monday-Saturday 9 a.m.-5:30 p.m.
Be sure to check out Amish Country Peddler and Homespun Treasures during their Christmas Open House on Friday, Nov. 12 9 a.m.-7 p.m. and Saturday, Nov. 13 9 a.m.-6 p.m. Both days will feature store-wide discounts.