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Built with Patience

Business sells handcrafted Amish furniture

January 8, 2012
By MIKE ZUMMO , The Leader Herald

The Leader-Herald

PERTH - It's tucked away inside a barn, surrounded by an Amish-style buggy, and a few Adirondack chairs.

Only a wooden sign on the side of Route 30, about a quarter-mile from the Montgomery County border, would tell a passing motorist that he is about to pass Blue Hen Amish Furniture, one of the only stores in the area to sell exclusively Amish-style furniture.

Article Photos

Valerie Orlowski, owner of Blue Hen Amish
Furniture in Perth, adjusts a centerpiece on a counter Wednesday at the store.

The Leader-Herald/Mike Zummo

According to store owner Valerie Orlowski, someone will pull in looking for the store, see the country feed store, which is owned by her husband, Mark, and then pull right back out again, thinking they had the wrong place.

But look closely, it's there. After entering the barn, the showroom becomes evident. Behind a modest door, lies the wealth of Amish-style furniture and handcrafted items, which has become Blue Hen's specialty since Orlowski opened the business in 2008.

Orlowski said the business started as a novelty at first, but it has grown steadily, although not fast enough for her to make the barn her store resides in more recognizable as a place to find Amish-made products.

But Orlowski exhibits an Amish-like patience as she presses forward, and tries to channel some of that patience towards the customers.

"I try not to hurry people," she said. "I want them to be happy with their purchase. if you let them take their time, they'll be thrilled when it comes in."

The Blue Hen showroom is full of dining-room sets, sofas, chairs, rockers, chests and just about anything else that an Amish craftsman can create.

Some items even have multiple uses. At first glance, it looks like a wooden high chair that would be found in McDonald's. Turn it on its side, it's a rocking horse. Turn it over again, it's a small desk.

Anything in the showroom can be bought as is, and she tries to have enough of a selection to guide customers through the buying process, but she said if the customer doesn't see exactly what they want, she can get word to the Amish to build something customized to the customer's needs.

However, in a world where instant gratification is the norm and customers are used to finding their order status with a couple clicks, waiting for the order requires patience, Orlowski said.

Her suppliers are in Ohio and Pennsylvania, and she gets word to them through voicemail or a fax service of what her customer is looking for. The turnaround on such an order is about 4 to 6 weeks.

"When you purchase Amish furniture, you have to be patient," Orlowski said.

According to the Blue Hen owner, the furniture is worth the wait.

"It's not built on an assembly line," she said. "Each piece is built to last. The Amish believe that if it's worth doing, it's worth doing right. It's heirloom quality furniture."

Not everything in the store is Amish-made, even though the furniture is. However, it is important to her that everything in the store is made in the United States.

"I think that will make people appreciate it too," she said. "People have to be retrained to know they don't have to settle. You can get what you want as long as you're patient."

Mike Zummo is the business editor. He can be reached at



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