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Randy L. McKee

Growing and preparing your own meals, spending more time with family and exercising the freedom to make your own choices may sometimes seem like values of the past.

Lehman's sees them as the future.

"We want to help people live a simpler life," said Glenda Lehman Ervin, Director of Marketing for the family owned mercantile in Kidron. "We believe a simpler life means living a life that's understand-able, sustainable and comforting. All of our products are predicated on that belief."

Lehman's is a haven for homesteaders, preppers and survivalists — as well as shoppers who simply love to peruse unique antiques and other interesting merchandise. The store, which has been featured in such national publications as Smithsonian magazine and the Washing-ton Post, features a vast array of products that promote independence and self-sufficiency — from emergency supplies, to gardening tools, to food preservation goods to old fashioned toys that inspire imagination and learning.

The store has focused on practical, independent living from the time Ervin's father, Jay Lehman, opened it in 1955.

"My father wanted to serve the Amish and others who were living without electricity," she said. "But he also wanted to preserve the past for future generations. He wanted to keep traditional skills alive, whether it's milking a cow, planting a garden or churning butter."
The need for self sufficiency became more of a reality for many people during the energy crisis of the 1970s, which resulted from the Arab oil embargo.

"Dad, in order to serve his Amish customers, had ordered truckloads of wood cooking and heating stoves," Ervin said.

"Most of the other stove dealers around him had stopped carrying them. They felt they were old fashioned and nobody wanted them anymore. When the energy crisis hit, Dad sold a three-year supply in six months. That put him on the map as the go-to place for hard-to-find practical non-electric products."

Lehman's next surge in popularity preceded a crisis that didn't happen — Y2K. The unrealized projections that computer systems around the world would malfunction when their clocks registered the new century caused a run on products that would function "off the grid."

"Starting around the summer of 1998, people began to be concerned that without traditional electricity, they wouldn't have a way to heat their homes, cook their food and take care of their families,” Ervin said. "People knew where to go to prepare themselves."

Last year's pandemic lock-down created another wave of demand for home-use products.

"We saw sales grow in three main areas last year," Ervin said. "One was for things that are comforting — like cookie cutters and rolling pins. Another was entertainment. For example, in April 2019 we sold 30 puzzles online. In April 2020 we sold more than 700. The third, and more serious kinds of products that increased in sales were those that revealed that people are making a life change — like wood cooking stoves or tools to plant a large garden. People told us that they didn't necessarily want to live without electricity, but they wanted to be prepared to do so if it became necessary."

Lehman's carries a large number of items made by the Amish or other local and regional craftsman.

But the store's products, Ervin said, are just a part of the Lehman's experience. "We want to help people learn how to live a simpler, more self-reliant life," she said. "Before Covid, we did a lot of classes on topics like food preservation, heating with wood, and tapping your trees for maple syrup. We did home schooling classes for students. We plan to re-institute them in 2022. What we are really here for is to help and encourage people to embrace a simpler life."

You can begin on your journey to a simpler life with a visit to Lehman's, located at 4779 Kidron Road, in Kidron. You can learn more about the store — and read Lehman's educational blog — at, or by calling 330-828-8828.