If you’ve passed by the Simply Amish store in Castleton and thought Amish furniture is not your style, you really should go inside and see for yourself. The minute you walk in the door, you will be surprised at the variety of style, and your perceptions will change completely. Simply Amish is the brainchild of Kevin Kauffman who, in 1979, along with his four brothers, started working in his father’s newly-opened woodworking shop in Illinois. Raised Amish himself, Kauffman spent 10 years building furniture. Then in 1989, at the age of just 20, Kauffman and his uncle decided to start a company that builds and distributes Amish handmade furniture all over the country.
Today, that company is Simply Amish, and it distributes to around 400 stores in 49 states and another 25 stores in Canada. In addition, there are six retail stores, five of them licensed, and the sixth is the store at 5612 Castleton Corner in Castleton, owned and operated by Kauffman, president of Simply Amish.
While having a retail store in the Indianapolis area since 1995 and at the current Castleton location for 10 years, Kauffman says the main part of the business is the manufacturing and distribution of furniture. There are 50 craftsman shops in Ohio, Indiana and Illinois that build heirloom pieces of furniture by hand exclusively for Simply Amish. Most of the shops are owned by Amish or people with Amish backgrounds. In fact, many are relatives of Kauffman’s, including his father and 4 brothers who own shops that build furniture for Simply Amish. Everything is locally made in the Midwest.
Kauffman, who also designs many of the pieces, says not all Amish furniture is created equal. Simply Amish, however, has high standards and is much better made than other furniture.
“Once people buy Simply Amish furniture, they typically become fans of it and don’t want to go anywhere else. Even though it’s not inexpensive, it’s not that much more expensive than other nice furniture that you’re looking at,” he says. Kauffman believes in using high-quality materials. “We always use the best materials that we can get our hands on, even if it’s a little more expensive,” he says, explaining that drawer slides are a perfect example. “We could buy a cheaper version from China that would cost us about a quarter of the price of these, but we know that these will last a lifetime. We offer a lifetime warranty on our furniture,” he says. “We decided 15 years ago that we put so much effort into making sure that this furniture will last a lifetime, why not just warranty it for a lifetime?”
All craftsman shops that build for Simply Amish agree to build to their standards, and all agree to use the same quality of wood, same drawer slides, same pulls, same finishing material and same steps in finishing, something that Kauffman describes as critical. Whereas the quality may be the same, the style and variety are unlimited. “Amish is not a certain style. We have all kinds of designs. We’re not limited by design, and we can build almost anything,” he says.
Recognizing that Amish has a certain style perception, Kauffman emphasizes that Simply Amish is not what people think. “We’re a very style-forward, upscale, higher-end, quality product. It comes down to style. We’re quality, and we have lots of different styles,” he says. “Design is a very important thing to us. For a lot of our competition, price is the most important thing. They’re trying to make it as cheap as they can, and they sacrifice design in order to get to that.”
Simply Amish has seven different catalogs, each reflecting its own different style, including Modern Farmhouse, Traditional, Arts and Crafts, Transitional and a more contemporary line called 200 North. The store itself is divided into style categories, and you can see the vast array of choices upon entering.
Most of the furniture is made on demand and can be ordered in any type of wood, color, size or fabric with literally 100 different wood choices and 1,000 fabric choices. “Here you can knock yourself out and be as creative as you want to be, but we also have a very experienced staff that has been with us many, many years that will help you get through that custom end of things,” says Kauffman. The wait time is usually eight to 10 weeks. But if you don’t want to wait, you don’t have to. If you find something on the floor that you like, you are able to purchase it.
Simply Amish keeps 100 different pieces of inventory in what is called their “Express” program. Besides being able to customize furniture pieces in the Simply Amish lineup to suit specific needs, space and tastes, you can also have something designed and created just for you, something you are not going to find at other furniture stores.
Whether it’s a unique piece or a special order, all pieces go through quality control and receive a silver label on the back. The label includes the name of the person that the piece was made for and the signature of the craftsman, making it truly an heirloom. Every piece of furniture at Simply Amish has been created by a true craftsman and are all bench-made.
Kauffman says for the quality, Simply Amish furniture is a great value and is the best furniture around. “I’d put our furniture up against anybody in this town,” he says.
Visit Simply Amish at 5612 Castleton Corner Lane, Indianapolis, IN 46250 or online at simplyamishindy.com.
Simply Amish (317) 579-9490