Relax! You’re in Amish Country

Slow down. Relax. Breathe. You’re in “Amish Country” in Central Pennsylvania, Lancaster County. It’s a different world here. In Amish country, the daily hustle and bustle is traded in for the slower, more tranquil pace of life in the rejuvenating countryside. Here, the splendid choir of birds fills the air as the

sounds of car traffic disappear and the natural, welcoming sounds of hooves and buggies appear. This is where you are enveloped by the endless and vibrant green pastures, where the sights of cattle peacefully grazing on endless real turf puts you at ease.

Perhaps it’s this peaceful atmosphere of Lancaster county that attracts more than 9 million visitors annually, both domestic and international combined, aside from the major attractions and great shopping. Perhaps it’s because this rich countryside is primarily made up of the unique Pennsylvania Dutch Amish community, “the plain folk”. The Amish paint a uniquely self-sufficient and simple way of life, whose values and lifestyle shape the countryside of Lancaster County into what it is now, and who contribute to the $2.3 billion economic growth of the county. Tourists flock from all parts of the country and world to visit and learn about the Pennsylvania Dutch, to savor their mouthwatering Whoopi and shoofly pies, jams, jellies, and cheeses, and to shop at local Amish businesses–such as Isaac “Ike” Stoltzfus’ genuine leather goods shop, Forest Hill Leather Craft.

For the past 47 years, Ike has relished life in Lancaster County with his family and community,

and 20 years ago, he decided to open up Forest Hill Leather Craft to produce leather goods using only 100% genuine leather. Ike and his two younger sons now run the business together. Earlier last year, I

had the pleasure of meeting Ike and his sons and learning more about his business and seeing for myself just how the Amish values and beliefs pervade every part of their life, including business. Ike’s workshop and store are located in the quaint ‘Bird-in-Hand’ area. Drive on Forest Hill Road too quickly and you will miss the only lawn sign identifying his business; there are no big billboards or attention-drawing lights. A charming abode, humble farm, and a rustic, A-framed shop makeup Ike’s two-acre property, which is surrounded by miles of serene countryside. Stepping through the single door into the shop, battery operated lights and propane fueled lamps dot the ceiling. Simple wooden shelves full of neat leather goods boast something for everyone. Bright, richly toned crossbody bags, handbags, wristlets, and elegant belts for the ladies; wallets, customized leather-wrapped mugs, and Ike’s infamous belts for the men; watch bands, leather-covered padfolios, laptop bags and briefcases for the career-bound individual; various leather accessories for children and much more! Be sure to ask Ike about customizations and monogrammed accessories! Ike’s quality items are intricately designed as well as durable, boasting off his hours of fine craftsmanship.

At Forest Hill Leather Craft, each product is a labor of love individually crafted with integrity, creativity, and care. Ike’s leather goods begin with a pure, simple ingredient–100% superior, genuine processed hide–that he gets from Wickett & Craig, a company which has been in business since the late 1800’s and is located only 3 hours away from Ike’s shop. Turning raw hide into prime grade genuine leather is a lengthy process, but the result is desirable high-quality material that lasts a lifetime! Ike uses only solid pieces of hide so you will not find a single item in his store made of partial leather or mixed synthetic materials. Leather goods purchased from Forest Hill Leather Craft are sturdy, will last you a lifespan and will save you a lot of money on repairs and replacements. (Ike offers repairs for any leather goods, whether purchased at Forest Hill Leather Craft or elsewhere.) Ike and his business are symbolic to the Amish countryside, whose values and humble ways of life have shaped the area that keeps bringing back millions of tourists each year for a relaxing, rejuvenating experience. Getting to meet Ike and tour his shop was a neat experience and learning about the plain ways in business provided great insight and a good message. Summertime is here and it’s both a beautiful and busy time for the Amish and Lancaster County. Be sure to add Forest Hill Leather Craft to your trip itinerary and stock up on Christmas gifts for your family. Ike offers delivery so that you can purchase your leather products from the shop’s e-commerce page,, which includes the latest catalog. His property is actually six miles north of the center of Bird-in-Hand, just a short jog north of Route 23 near the town of Leola. Plug in 225 Forest Hill Road, Bird-in-Hand, PA 17505 into your GPS, (717)-656-8758. So, next time you are on Forest Hill Road, don’t drive too quickly or you will have missed the leather shop, and remember to slow down, relax, and breathe… you’re in an Amish Country.