Last week, we enjoyed a getaway to one of our favorite parts of Ohio, the Amish communities in Holmes and Tuscarawas counties of Ohio. We enjoy visiting furniture and quilt shops where we can study fine Amish craftsmanship. We found a small “general store” on a country road near Farmerstown, right in the midst of the Amish community. And we discovered the Gospel Book Store in the German Village Center in Berlin, which seems to be the unofficial “capital” of Amish country in Ohio.
The store is located just inside the main entrance of the German Village Center which also includes a market, a pharmacy with an old fashion soda fountain, and a hardware store. Outside the front entrance to the store are sale tables of books, sheet music, and Bibles. Current best-sellers can be found just inside the front entrance. For those visiting who love the cooking in the area, there is a section of Amish and local cookbooks.
I also found the selection of Bibles, devotional and prayer books in German an unusual feature of this bookstore. And given its location, it features an extensive selection of Amish romance fiction. I understand this is one of the most popular genres within Christian fiction, and a number of the authors have spent time in this area researching their books. If you are interested in learning more about Amish history and life, there are also books on these subjects.
Also in the book sections are an extensive selection of Bibles, devotional materials, books on the Christian life by both popular writers and more serious works on issues and theology, including some of the books I’ve reviewed on this blog! One of the book sellers mentioned that they actually do sell a number of books because of the “unplugged” lifestyle of many in the community. They read rather than watch TV–imagine that!
The store also sells a number of gift items and cards as well as various church supplies. They have an extensive selection of accompaniment CDs as well as other music in genres as diverse as a capella Mennonite music to bluegrass to gospel. They also sell sheet music for choirs and soloists, Christian education materials, communion supplies, and choir robes.
Like many independent bookstores they actively promote events for the community, including a Cookbook Extravaganza with local authors on hand with samples of their recipes. They sponsor a Gospel Concert series held at Fisher Auditorium at the Ohio Agricultural Research and Development Center in nearby Wooster.
At one time, it was not uncommon to find stores like this in most communities of some size. They are now fewer and far between. Like most stores they have a well-designed website that allows for online ordering. What struck me in our visit there was that the proprietors have worked hard to know this church-going community and to operate an attractive, friendly store with a selection of the items that cater to the interests of both local people and others visiting the community. If you are a church-going person and have never seen a store like this, it is well worth a visit!
Here are store hours, address, and other essential contact information:
Gospel Book Store
4900 Oak St
PO Box 320
Berlin, OH 44610
Mon-Thur: 8:30 AM to 6:30 PM
Fri: 8:30 AM to 7:00 PM
Sat: 8:30 AM to 5:00 PM