I love hardware stores and I am very lucky to live by one of the most unique stores in the country. Roughly sixty miles south of Cleveland, Ohio and just east of Wooster in the town of Kidron is a preppers paradise. Located near the heart of Amish country, is a hardware store that has been selling prepper equipment since before people knew what prepping meant. Lehman’s Hardware is billed as a non-electric hardware store, but it is so much more than that.
“Many times, people ask us,” says Glenda Lehman Ervin, Vice-President and Director of Marketing for Lehman’s, “What do Amish farmers, hunters and preppers have in common? The answer is, More than you would think. Everyone needs an assured, safe source of food, heat, light and water. If you don’t have electricity to deliver those things to you, alternatives are vital.”
When Ervin’s father Jay Lehman founded Lehman’s Non-Electric Hardware, his goal was to supply the local Amish community with the items they needed to carry on their self-sufficient way of life. Gradually, the business grew, and now Lehman’s supplies wood stoves, lanterns, water purification equipment and more to a constantly expanding customer base.
Ervin continued: “We serve hunters and farmers, the chronically nostalgic, folks going back to the land, missionaries, and, of course, the Amish. We’ve always had a focus on helping people develop a self-reliant lifestyle. Now, we’re finding an increasing number of our customers are looking ahead, and developing solid plans to have adequate preparations in place in the event of emergencies.”
The store, started in 1955 sits on 45,000 square feet in four buildings built before the civil war, including a Buggy Barn cinema, where you can relax on Amish-made hickory church pews while learning about: organic gardening, oil lamp restoration, or wood stove maintenance. I have bought everything I needed to make sauerkraut from Lehman’s; a crock, wood plunger, and the wood disk. The place is a gold mine of information and old-fashioned treasures. Need a propane refrigerator? Yep, they have it. Canning equipment? Check. Wood burning cook stove? That too!
As Vice-President of Lehman’s, she’s seen it firsthand. “During the Y2K crisis, we were one of the few resources that people could turn to for non-electric items that would help meet the basic needs of heat, light, water and food. We saw a great demand for stoves, water purification systems, canned meats and foods, things that would enable folks to cope with what could have been a major crisis. At that time, there was a real belief that we’d all wake up on January 1, 2000, and the established infrastructure just wouldn’t be operable.” And although it didn’t turn out that way, Lehman’s has continued to grow since Y2K.
“It was as if once people were aware of the logic of being prepared, and how it could help them manage through things like weather emergencies or power outages, they became focused upon making sure they had adequate plans in place,” Ervin said. Today, a comprehensive mindset of being prepared has transformed into an entire social movement that’s often called ‘prepping’. Many are familiar with the National Geographic reality series “Doomsday Preppers”, but that series doesn’t really portray the majority of the prepper movement, according to Ervin.
“Preppers are very interested in establishing self-sufficiency, creating a complete safety net for their families, and often, their communities with technologies that doesn’t require dependence upon outside systems,” Ervin continued. “In many ways, their goals are similar to what we see with our rural and mission customers, who also need to grow, harvest and preserve food; light, warm and heat their homes, and have a reliable, clean water supply in places where there is no electricity.”
Lehman’s can offer their customers the product and technologies to do all those things. Furthermore, they offer expert support through a customer service department, so customers can get maximum benefit from their products. Today, Lehman’s is a leading non-electric retailer in United States. It’s still family-owned, employs over 100 local residents and is still based in Ohio’s Amish country. “In the twenty-first century, it’s amazing to think that there are still innovations in non-electric products, from stoves to lamps, water filters to sewing machines.”
The 45,000 square foot retail store in Kidron, Ohio is open every day except Sunday. If you’re up for a road trip, enter 4779 Kidron Road, Dalton Ohio, 44618 into your GPS. (Prefer to triangulate? Find Lehman’s at 40.741909 LAT : -81.746269 LONG)
If you’re further away, take advantage of www.lehmans.com or call 1-877-438-5347 to request a copy of their extensive catalog. Catalogs may be requested by mail to PO Box 270, Kidron, OH 44636.