Iron Works volunteers bring a taste of Amish country

Published 11:35 am Wednesday, December 1, 2021

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Historical Society volunteers Bonnie Schrader and Paula Zabransky run the Country Store at Shelby Iron Works Park, and they have recently brought a little taste of the Amish Country to the south Shelby County area.

The Country Store’s sole purpose is to raise funds for the preservation of the Iron Works through the Shelby County Historical Society. For over a decade Schrader and Zabransky have managed to curate an ongoing inventory of donated antiques and gently used household items to sell in the charming store.

The store, housed in a small building on the grounds of the Iron Works, is surrounded by history that predates the Civil War. The park is a local favorite for festivals and other community gatherings such as the monthly community pancake breakfast fundraiser on the first Saturday of each month.

Pancake breakfast Saturday is typically one of the Country Store’s busiest days. Schrader and Zabransky are sure to update the displays and inventory each month to attract breakfast goers to further support their cause.

The store has gained a little more attention lately as a new and nearby ranch living style development, The Ranches of Shelby Lake has brought more business to the store. As more customers come in, Schrader and Zabransky have looked into ways they could bring a little more to offer to their customers.

“Most of what we sell has been donated,” Shrader told us. “We do sell our park t-shirts and hats, and of course the sorghum that is made here every fall, but aside from that and the donations, we’ve not bought merchandise to sell until now.

That merchandise is canned goods that come from the Amish country in Ohio. Shoppers can now find a tempting selection of canned foods such as peach and strawberry jams, pecan pumpkin butter, relishes, pickles, peaches and okra, and more. “The pickled beets have been a bestseller,” we were told.

The goods have been wildly popular and will make great Christmas gifts that will in turn, when purchased, ultimately help ensure the preservation of the park. The ladies have nearly sold through two large orders since their first offerings were displayed in October, but plan to have more soon.

Executive Director of the museum, Jennifer Maier told us “Bonnie and Paula bring years of combined experience in retail and service. They have a good eye for finding great items to sell in the Country Store. The park is blessed to have these two ladies who give so selflessly of their time and talents.”

Hours for the store depend on activities planned at the park.

The store is open every first Saturday of the month for the pancake breakfast, and any other community events held at the park.

Recently they have also been working with realtors at the Ranches of Shelby Lake to make shopping convenient for potential real estate buyers. To find out more about the store’s hours, or to find out how to become a much-needed volunteer or donate gently loved household items for the Country Store, contact the Shelby Iron Works Park Facebook page or call the Shelby County Museum and Archives at 205-669-3912.