Coming Clean about Toockies®

Handmade, ultra-soft washcloths help Indian women support their families. At Lehmans.com and our store in Kidron, Ohio.

Handmade, ultra-soft washcloths help Indian women support their families. At Lehmans.com and our store in Kidron, Ohio.

 

Here at Lehman’s, we’re all about values. The good buy sort of values, bedrock family values, and the value of helping improve a community. 

Amazingly enough, our Toockies Organic Cotton products cover all three. The woman-owned company manufactures a variety of organic cotton cloths and woven jute products for use in the kitchen, bath and living room.

Toockies founder Anna Marie Strauss started small in the early 2000s, working with co-founder Jaya Basu to teach women in Nababpur, India how to knit cotton washcloths, circulation gloves, cleaning cloths, scrub cloths and coasters. At the time, in this tiny village, employment, especially for women, was just about non-existent.  Continue reading

Happy National Pet Week: Your Dog’s Most-Wanted Toy

Yep, it’s a stick. But…it’s not just a stick. It’s the best stick your dog will ever fetch.fetchinstixx

Those of us who have owned retrievers of any kind know the stamina of these amazing dogs to fetch and bring back…fetch and bring back…fetch and bring back. My husband and I used to say our yellow lab was a bit like a small child shouting, “Again! Again! Again!” after being tossed in the air or tickled or something else they really liked. After all, retrieving is in their blood. It’s what they were made for. But lots of other breeds love to play fetch, too. (That’s why this specialized stick comes in two sizes – for for dogs 25-50 lb, and for dogs 50 lb and up.)

This stick has a story. Like many of us humans, the creator of Fetchin’ Sticks battled bouts of depression. Maxx, the golden retriever he had rescued years before from Continue reading

Blacksmith and Family Forge Strong Ties

Danielle in the shop with a neighbor's kid. Doug de-horns kids with a hot iron, just like blacksmiths always have.

Danielle in the shop with a neighbor’s kid. Doug de-horns kids with a hot iron, just like blacksmiths always have.

The Makers of Hand Forged Iron.

Doesn’t that sound like a lovely name for a business from a century ago, all done in curlicue writng? But it’s not a nostalgic memory. It’s the name of the business that’s kept the Lockhart family in Logan, Ohio busy for over 30 years.

Led by patriarch Doug, with his wife Berta serving as office manager, and with contributions from their children/apprentices, Annah Lockhart, Danielle Russell, and Benjamin Lockhart, this family works–hard! Both Danielle and Benjamin have national awards for their work as youth blacksmiths. “It’s kind of hard now, though,” says Danielle, about entering competitions. “I’m going up against adults, because I’m out of the 18 and under class now. I’ve learned a lot, though, and I love to do artistic work.” Continue reading

Country Cottons Are A True Mom-And-Pop Business

100% Cotton Kitchen Towels, Lehmans.com

Pete and Toni Hogan, outside the ‘manufacturing center’, autumn 2013.

Locust, North Carolina isn’t the biggest town on the map. You might not think there’s a whole lot going on there. You’d be wrong–because Pete and Toni Hogan’s three-car garage doesn’t hold cars–it holds a thriving business!

Pete ran Country Cottons from the spring of 2008 until the end of 2010, when he retired. “But folks kept after me, kept asking if we had anything left, if we could tell them where to find dishtowels that were 100% American,” he said when interviewed for Country Life last fall.

And so early in 2013, he and his wife picked the business back up, and now they’re busier than ever! Continue reading

Claey’s Candy: Making Life Sweet Since 1919

Lehman’s is proud to carry so many “Made In The USA” products. This fall, Country Life visited a few of these vendors, and got a behind-the-scenes look at how the magic happens. CL’s blog editor shares her tour at Claey’s Candies. Pick up your favorite flavors at Lehman’s in Kidron, Ohio, or order them online at Lehmans.com.

Claey's Candy building

Since 1919, this has been the home of great candy!

Claey’s Candy was my first stop on the Fall 2013 USA Vendor Tour. And what a stop it was! Those rumors you hear about elves making candy? They must have learned it from Claeys. Starting in 1919, the company has been turning out tons of their signature hard candies in horehound, root beer, and nine other old-school and favorite flavors. Continue reading

A Century Old Tradition: Knives by Franz Güde

A Güde craftsman works diligently to craft some of the finest knives.

When you look at your kitchen knives, what do you see? A work of art? A reliable tool that you’ll always have? What about a tradition that began over a century ago?

When we look at the knives by Franz Güde, we see something more. Beyond some of the finest craftsmanship is a story that is rich and full of hard work, a lasting tradition, and most important of all, family.

The Güde family’s story began over 100 years ago in Solingen, Germany. While Germany alone is known for high-quality cutlery, the town of Solingen specifically has a long history of exceptional knife making. In fact, it has been nicknamed “the City of Blades” for all the knives, swords and other blades it’s known for producing. In 1910, it was here that a man named Karl Güde opened a small cutlery workshop, a fitting start for a company who’d eventually be known for their knives. Continue reading

Amish Family Develops, Designs, Builds Child’s Teepee Tents

Fresh from the sewing machine, this Child's Teepee tent stands next to Sarah's sweet corn bed.

Fresh from the sewing machine, this Child’s Teepee tent stands next to Sarah’s sweet corn bed, all ready to be delivered to Lehman’s in Kidron, or Lehmans.com.

We find all sorts of wonderful craftspeople in the rolling hills of Amish country that surround our store in Kidron, Ohio. The following profile is of the Amish family who makes our Child’s Teepee Tent 1152925. To protect their privacy, we are only using first names. In respect to the traditions of their religion, there are no photos of the family.

Mt. Hope, Ohio, is a pretty typical Amish country small town. There, tourists and locals (Amish and otherwise); cars and buggies rub along. Beside the bigger county roads, you’ll see small and medium-sized shops devoted to wood furniture and other fabrication trades. In and around the town, there are discreet signs hung at the ends of lanes, noting the handcrafts done on the farmsteads. They’re so subtle, it’s not even advertising, really.

Follow one someday, and you’ll end up at a farmstead like the one Country Life visited recently. There, Sarah and her daughter Martha build our Child’s Teepee Tent. Continue reading

Stirring Up Change, Right Here In Amish Country

Around 2002, the world as we know it changed. That’s when the Natural Peanut Butter Mixer came on the scene. Sure, it’s a little thing. But sometimes, it’s the little things that can smooth out life’s hills and valleys.

Bob Witmer is the guy responsible. At the time, he was managing a local non-profit, but he’d come up with a couple of good ideas that made great products. They’re all like the Natural Peanut Butter Mixer: solutions to the small things that make you crazy. Continue reading

Arnold’s Candies: Keepin’ It Sweet Since 1953

It's retro all the way at Arnold's!

It’s retro all the way at Arnold’s!

Come along with Country Life and get a look behind the scenes at one of our favorite vendors: family-owned Arnold’s Candies. This small northeastern Ohio company makes Sugar Puffs, Butter Mints, and the thinnest, tastiest nut brittles ever: we’re pleased that we can share these wonderful treats with you!

Vice-President and partner Kyle Roberson took us into the place where the magic happens–the candy production room. In the big, spanking-clean space, owner and president/partner Greg Dauphin, brothers Paul and Shawn Freeder, and Tommy Bennett make workday ingredients like sugar, cream of tartar and water into out-of-this-world confections. Continue reading

Handbuilt Since 1878…and 1993

On left, #78, Lehman’s Own Reading Peeler. On right, an original Reading, c. 1976.

One of the Lehman’s products with the longest known history is Lehman’s Own Reading 78 Apple Peeler. It’s one of those cool gear-driven Victorian era contraptions that does one thing — peeling apples — and has done it exceptionally well for over 130 years! Continue reading