A Little Back Story
I had this great idea for a series of blog posts to introduce you to the faces and people behind our local businesses. I’ve reached out to several of my favorite shops in town and asked them if they’d be willing to participate in a written interview and we’re going to start with Smucker Village. I then follow up by going to the business and taking some video as well as photos of the staff at work. My plan is to introduce you to one business a month. I hope you find these interesting and useful.
First, thank you for agreeing to do this interview with me. My goal is to let my guests get to know you a little more about your store and really get to know the people behind our local small businesses.
I believe you grew up around here. Would you like to tell us a little bit about that? What was it like at the time? What’s changed? Why did you decide to stay here?
Carl and I both grew up in the Lancaster County area in the 1960’s and 70’s, raised in large Amish-Mennonite farm families. (We both have 7 siblings.) The area was much more rural then, with few restaurants and shopping options. Even back then though, the Village of Intercourse was a tourist destination of sorts, although much more understated; it focused mainly on the Amish people who called this place home. As farmland became less available to the next generation, Amish and Mennonites used their ingenuity, hard work ethic and creativity to branch out into new arena’s of craftsmanship, and started businesses outside of traditional farming–home builders, shed builders, furniture builders, garden stores, craft shops….This change resulted in more interaction between Amish and “English” people, and brought more visitors to our little corner of earth.
After Carl and I married in 1983, we moved to Louisiana for a few years to attend Bible College, and after the birth of our first child there, we felt the tug to come back to PA. In our opinion, Lancaster County is a great place to raise a family! It’s continued to be home to us all these years, and we are deeply grateful to be part of this community.
I know that the businesses in Smucker’s Village which include The Treasure Place and The Corner Coffee Shop used to be the only gas station in town. What happened the gas station and how did you and Carl end up purchasing it? Which one of you had the vision to turn it into what it is today?
Carl is definitely the visionary in our relationship! I am a “maintainer,” so we make a pretty good team! Carl has started many businesses over the years, beginning in construction at 19 years of age. He built sheds and then new homes in the 1980’s and 1990’s, served 7 years as President at Auntie Anne’s Pretzels, then started a company where we sold Amish-made outdoor products on the Internet. In 2009 we sold that company, and started thinking about doing a brick-and-mortar business in our local area. One thing that Carl had learned during the years at Auntie Anne’s was the importance of a good location–so while an old gas station that had recently closed down might not seem like a likely option for a new business, it just happened to be located directly in the center of our town. And not just any town: the Village of Intercourse has close to a million people pass through each year! This fact was the driving force behind our business decisions, even before we had any idea what product we would actually sell.
Neither of us are big coffee-drinkers, but we believed that a coffee shop could provide a place for both locals and tourists to enjoy, and would add activity and interest to whatever primary business we decided to start. We also recognized that out-of-towners and locals alike see our area as a great place to purchase well-made furniture. So without any experience in furniture or home decor, other than a love for both– we decided to give it a shot! Because there were already several local furniture stores selling primitive and country style creations, we wanted to offer a Cottage Farmhouse style that was becoming popularized at that time.
How’d They Do That?!
It has definitely evolved over the span of the last eight years. Currently we sell barn wood products that are made by local Amish people, as well as one-of-a-kind furniture pieces that we personally find and have them repurposed, as well as some upholstered furniture and lots of home decor and accessories.
It’s All In the Details
I’m not sure you know, but I have a gallery wall of the farm animal paintings in the dining room. It’s a dream of mine to have someone come and decorate Carriage Corner. Who sets up all the little areas of the store? Is it the same person who does the purchasing?
Our staging manager, Sharon, came to us with years of previous experience in furniture and design, and continues to work her magic in the way she displays product in the store. Her goal is to create vignettes that a customer can look at and take home parts –or all– of the items to display in their own homes. She blends texture and color and layers to create a warm and inviting look in every corner. Sharon and Fan do most of the purchasing, along with help from other team members.
Which Came First?
As well as selling beautiful decor items, I am also a fan of the corner coffee shop. Which came first – The Treasure Place or The Corner Coffee Shop? I must admit to finding many treasures while waiting for a coffee.
The goal at Smucker Village was always to create an interesting shopping experience for shoppers, along with offering fresh coffee and local pastries. We never wanted to do one without the other.
What’s in Store for Smucker Village
Can you tell us a little bit about the vision for the newest shop being added at Smucker Village? Corner West Art & Lifestyle Gallery.
The property directly beside the Treasure Place and Corner Coffee Shop consisted of a large two-story-house-turned-store that had closed and been abandoned for about 15 years. Because the building was situated literally 18 inches from our property line, and offered the potential for more parking as well as storage space in the back, we always hoped it would come up for sale ever since we opened Smucker Village in 2013. When it finally did become available, we jumped at the chance to breathe new life and purpose into another old space. The shop will be called “Corner West Art and Lifestyle Gallery”. We are happy to feature local artist Freiman Stoltzfus, who grew up in Lancaster County, and currently has an art gallery in Lancaster City. We will also be selling lifestyle items that include leather purses, jewelry, rugs, as well as modern furniture pieces and home decor. We hope to open the store in May or June of this year.
Outside of Smucker Village
What do you like to do when you aren’t at the shop?
We enjoy traveling when we can, it’s always fun to explore new places in our wonderful country. Our son and daughter-in-law currently live in Charlotte, NC, so we make several trips a year to see them. My happy place is in my flowerbeds, playing in the dirt! We have a wooded property about 45 minutes from our home where Carl likes to spend time.
Not Comfortable Visiting Just Yet?
If people aren’t comfortable visiting Lancaster County just yet, how can they shop with you? I was also wondering if I was visiting from across the county and shopping in person, would you ship my purchases home for me?
During the 11 weeks that our store was shut down due to the pandemic in early 2020, we focused our efforts on creating a new website, and now are happy to offer some of our products online. You can visit us at www.smuckervillage.com. We work with shipping companies to offer nationwide shipping for our larger items; we do not yet ship small pieces of home decor, but hope to do so in the future.
Before We Go – Let’s Take a Tour of Smucker’s Village