Why Do the Amish Shop at Walmart?

Many believe the Amish are an isolated community and don’t shop at stores or contribute to the national economy, but this is not true. The Amish shop at various stores, including Walmart, and purchase consumer goods. 

The Amish shop at Walmart because they are a thrifty community, and many members appreciate the low prices of the variety of items available at Walmart. Walmart has stores in numerous locations, so shopping there is often convenient and practical. 

Amish people acquire their goods and manage their money may differ from non-Amish people, but there are some similarities.

Also see Do Amish Use Cell Phones? to learn more.

Amish shopping
Do the Amish buy things at stores? See below

Do the Amish buy things at stores?

The Amish buy things at stores, even though they grow a lot of their food and make their clothes. Amish people shop at various stores, including salvage stores, dry goods stores, and supermarkets. 

Many people perceive the Amish as members of an isolated community who don’t contribute to the national economy. However, this is far from the truth. Even though Amish people don’t have cars, they still go shopping for the necessary goods and materials. 

Here are some stores where Amish people shop: 

  • Salvage stores. There are at least five hundred salvage grocery stores nationwide, and the idea of salvage stores is thought to have started in Amish communities. Salvage grocery stores sell past-date or almost past-date foods, holiday and seasonal foods, failed products, imperfect produce, items that didn’t sell well in larger supermarkets, and products in damaged or misspelled packaging. [1]
  • Dry goods stores. Dry goods stores carry products such as textile fabrics, cotton, wool, linen, silk, lace, writing supplies, books, and lighting implements. Spector’s is a popular chain of dry goods stores among Amish community members.
  • Large supermarkets. Supermarkets such as Walmart allow the Amish to purchase large quantities of food at low prices.

The Amish shop at stores, but they also frequently acquire items in different ways. Here are some alternatives to traditional brick-and-mortar stores that the Amish use: 

  • Auctions. Auctions are common in Amish communities not only because it provides them with an opportunity to purchase farm equipment, furniture, tools, animals, or other goods, but because it is an opportunity to socialize or support a cause if it is a benefit auction. [2]
  • Door-to-door salespeople. Traveling salespeople may not be as common anymore, but they still frequent Amish communities to sell products such as cleaning materials, vacuums, and Bibles.
  • Catalogs. The Amish use catalogs to purchase goods, including Amish publications such as The Budget and Shetler’s Wholesale. Shetler’s even offers special discounts for newlyweds. The catalog sells kitchenware, toys, clothing items, tools, wagons, and more. Shopping by catalog is convenient for the Amish as it means they don’t have to depend on their buggy to get them to the store. 

Even though the Amish lead simple lifestyles, they still need to purchase things every now and then. To do this, they can either shop at a store or use one of the above alternatives.   

Do the Amish Shop at Walmart?

Amish people who live near a Walmart are likely to shop there. The popularity of Walmart stems from its low prices and the opportunity to buy in bulk. Additionally, this is one of the most practical and economic stores they can shop at.

There are nearly 5,000 Walmart stores, and 90% of the American population lives within ten miles of a Walmart, so there is likely a Walmart location near most Amish communities. [3] This makes it possible for the Amish to get there by buggy, and many Walmarts near Amish areas even have buggy rails for parking. 

If getting there by buggy isn’t possible, it is common for the Amish to get a group together and hire an Amish taxi approximately once a month to go to Walmart. 

The large quantities and bulk items at low prices appeal to the Amish because they typically have large families and try to live as frugally as possible. The typical Amish household has six to eight children, so buying groceries in mass quantities is essential. [4]  

Also see Do Amish Women Shave? to learn more.

Amish farmer
Are the Amish rich? See below

Are the Amish rich?

Some Amish people become rich from their successful businesses. However, it is difficult to tell the monetary status of Amish people because they invest their money and don’t display their wealth. 

Amish people are savvy business owners. The Amish focus on smaller-scale ethics, and many business owners are willing to work alongside their employees, establishing positive relationships and increasing profit.

Amish small businesses are successful, especially in skilled trades such as furniture building and construction. These businesses have a 95% survival rate, compared to the 50% five-year survival rate of all small businesses in the United States. 

The Amish may also acquire wealth over the years because of their thrifty lifestyle. They save approximately 20% of their income – significantly more than the average American, who only saves 6%. Furthermore, many Amish are horrified at the idea of debt and avoid it at all costs. Most don’t even have any credit cards. 

Additionally, the Amish are resourceful and don’t waste anything. Old clothes are passed down to younger siblings or others in the community, or if they are no longer wearable, they are cut into strips for quilts or rags.

Finally, the Amish often shop secondhand. Buying things at thrift stores and garage sales is common, especially for clothing and toys, which also helps them save money.

Also see Do Amish Pay Taxes? to learn more.

Amish buggy
Where do the Amish buy their clothes? See below

Where do the Amish buy their clothes?

The Amish buy some of their clothes from consumer stores such as Walmart. They also buy textiles and fabrics from dry goods stores and make their own clothing.

It is not unusual for some apparel, such as underwear and socks, to be store-bought. Large chain stores like Walmart are thrifty places to purchase these items. Often, men’s shirts are bought in these stores as well, as they typically wear plain non-patterned shirts. 

Many Amish women make clothing with materials they purchase from dry goods stores. Women’s dresses typically require a lot of fabric in order to ensure they don’t show the woman’s figure. [5]  

Also see What Age Do Amish Women Get Pregnant? to learn more.

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Daniel Isaiah Joseph

Daniel's seminary degree is in Exegetical Theology. He was a pastor for 10 years. As a professor, he has taught Bible and theology courses at two Christian universities. Please see his About page for details.

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