There's an old Amish saying: "Idleness causes problems only work can solve." The folks at Schmucker's Amish General Store have nothing to worry about. Just ask owner Freeman Schmucker, whose family routinely demonstrates that oh-so-admirable work ethic. The results of all that elbow grease are on display in the shop, which opened in 2016 and immediately upped the quaint factor in the already charming town of Camden.
Filled with all things Amish, Schmucker's most prized offerings are the handsome, artisan furnishings crafted by Freeman's Amish cousin, Aden, who lives in Ohio.
"He's very talented," Freeman said. "All he needs is measurements for the custom pieces you seek or just a simple picture and he can construct it. Usually the order will be ready in six to eight weeks.
Some of our popular pieces are our hickory spindle recliners and our reclaimed barn lumber pieces.
Go ahead - sit a spell in a hickory rocker, but plan to stay put for a while. Crafted to fit the contours of the body, these handmade wonders are guaranteed to be one of the most comfy chairs you'll ever settle into. Run your hands along the richly polished, smooth planes of dining room tables, living room chairs, bedroom furniture, whimsical whiskey barrel dinettes and an array of accent pieces. Put on your glasses and inspect each detail. This is the feel and look of quality Amish craftsmanship.
Though Freeman left his Amish life to start anew in South Carolina, he continues to honor and showcase the best of Amish culture.
"I moved to Camden about seven years ago and immediately fell in love with the small-town feel," he said. "Obviously, the weather also helped with the decision of moving here from Ohio. It's a great place to raise a family and reminds me of growing up Amish. My oldest brother David was already living here, so I originally came here to visit him. I just always felt like an Amish store would do well in Camden, and there aren't any Amish in South Carolina. Plus I really wanted to showcase my family's products. Their skilled craftsmanship and passion pours through in all of their products."
You'll utter involuntary oohs and aahs as your eyes take in the gorgeous hand-woven baskets, carved wooden toys and hand-stitched quilts. If you've ever had the pleasure of dining Amish-style, you'll be happy to know Schmucker's offers a wide selection of cheeses, peanut butter, bologna, sausage, butter, candies and other goodies. And because equine interests are common to both Camden-ites and the Amish, there's an array of Amish-made tack boxes, trunks, halters and lead ropes. For the pup, there are leather dog collars, too.
But not everything with Amish origins looks the part. Custom-made outdoor furniture, available in your choice of summery hues or in your favorite school colors, is a hot commodity at Schmucker's.
"We take orders for our Polywood lawn furniture, which is made out of recycled milk jugs," Freeman said. "My oldest sister and her husband - who are also still Amish in Ohio - make all of our lawn furniture. It comes with a 20-plus year warranty and that alone attracts a lot of customers."
Candles, bread boxes, cutting boards, hand soaps and lotions, and books about Amish life are popular for gift-giving. From the very young to older folks waxing nostalgic for things done the old-fashioned way, there's something for everyone at Schmucker's.
"Come down and visit us in Camden where you can take a walk in Amish country, where it's all about faith, family and food," said Freeman. "All of our products in our store are authentically Amish-made. I grew up having and using a lot of the things you see. Nothing gives me more pride and joy than to bring you the essence of Amish life from my family to yours."