How about some holiday gifts this year that do not need electricity, or batteries?
There is a store in Kidron, Ohio, near Wooster that bills itself as “a low-tech superstore.” Lehman’s Hardware takes pride in selling very little that runs on electricity.
Kidron is a community that is heavily populated by Mennonite and Amish families. Local businessman Jay Lehman, back in 1955, decided to start a small hardware that would cater to the needs of Amish families who, for religious reasons, still use much of the technology of the nineteenth century. Wood-burning stoves, oil-burning lamps and simple hand-operated tools and appliances.
The business was successful, but little-known outside of the Amish community until the international oil crisis of 1973. With oil and gasoline suddenly in short supply people started looking for alternative, fuel-saving ways to live and they discovered Lehman’s Hardware. Over the years Lehman’s has continued to grow, spurred on by the Y2K controversy and the tragedy of 9/11, more and more people, not just in Ohio, but across the country, discovered the simple tools and furnishings of the past still had a place in the modern day world.
Today Lehman’s is a major tourist destination in Wayne County and attracts people from around the world. The simple hardware store has grown into a huge structure that nearly fills an entire city block in this small village and the emphasis is still on low-tech.
Glenda Lehman Ervin recently took me on a tour of the store and pointed out some unique holiday gifts.
“People are looking for authentic, practical products this year, “she said,” That also help save the environment as well as save them money.”
She pointed to welcome mats that are attractive, and are made out of recycled automobile tires. Some locally produced Amish rag rugs are created from old denim jeans and work shirts. They also carry practical things like a “peanut butter mixer”, a device that attaches to a peanut butter jar and mixes the oil into the mixture without spilling it all over the counter. Some of the practical gifts are pretty unusual like the steel bar of soap. It’s a stainless steel bar that you use like soap under some running water. The claim is that it will remove odors such as the smell of fresh-cut onions from your hands.
……You can read the rest of the story in the Cleveland Plain Dealer on Saturday, November 28, 2009 or visit their website, www.cleveland.com