Shopping Lancaster Style...Don't Forget Your Boots!
Lancaster County is well known for its inherent beauty and charm of yesteryear, but it is also a thriving shopping destination on the East coast. Large retail outlet malls, quaint small-town shops and unique, seasonal sales are all widely regarded throughout the area as favorite stops among enthused shoppers. Whether you are looking for antique furniture, hand-made wares or savings on new clothing, Lancaster has something for everyone.
Located along historical Lincoln Highway, or Route 30 as locals refer to it, are the Tanger and Rockvale Outlet Malls. Offering a huge selection of brand-name and designer clothes, shoes, handbags and other products, there hundreds of stores to choose from. Rockvale Outlets feature 80 different stores, while Tanger Outlets is home to more than 60 stores. Savings and deals up to 70% off retail prices on merchandise are a huge draw for people all over the area.
Small towns in Lancaster County also offer a wide variety of shopping selections. Traveling through Strasburg, Litiz, Intercourse and downtown Lancaster, you are likely to find independently own mom-and-pop shops, farmers markets, consignment boutiques and retail businesses, each with interesting items for sale.
Cackleberry Farm and Burning Bridge are great stops for looking through antique collectibles. For home furnishings, Blue Ridge Furniture and Country Home Furniture are worth visiting. If an authentic Lancaster County quilt is on your list, check out Riehl’s Quilts and Crafts, while Zook’s Fabrics and Burkholder Fabrics offer a wide selection of fabrics to choose from.
There are several mom-n-pop shops that are favorites in Lancaster County including, Li’l Country Store, Kauffman Clock, and Heavenly Soaps and Scents. Additionally, there are multiple large, specialty stores such as Flower and Home Market Place, and That Pet Place. Among the farmers markets in the area, Green Dragon is another local favorite.
The ever-popular Lancaster County “Mud Sale” is a seasonal shopping delight. Shoppers from the Philadelphia Mainline intermix with Lancaster locals, and peruse hundreds of vendors set up on Lancaster’s fertile farmland itself. A staple in Pennsylvania Dutch Country, the mud sale is a one-of-a-kind event, found only in Lancaster on weekends throughout the late Winter and early Spring. Named for the newly thawed farm fields that often lead to muddy conditions where they take place, mud sales intertwine two cultures- Amish and English, as they gather to partake in a large auction that offers a wide array of items to the community. A variety of livestock, produce, handmade quilts, clothing and house wares are typically found among the featured pieces up for bid. Amish women are known to donate their handmade wares to support local earnings. Proceeds raised from the auctions benefit volunteer fire departments in the community, to aid with purchasing supplies and equipment.
Both antique enthusiasts and bargain shoppers in search of unique treasures will enjoy digging through a plethora of things found at the mud sale. Furniture, kitchen accessories, glassware, ceramics, crafts, gardening items and plants are just part of the varied selection of things found each weekend. Folks also freely browse farming equipment and supplies, lumber, tools, buggies, carriages and much more. Auctioneers with lightening-quick voices oversee the animated rounds of bidding wars that take place all weekend long. Auctions often run simultaneously, with six or seven happening at a time, on different stages. Amish teenagers are on hand to help carry purchases to winning bidders’ cars. The mud sale is a great way for English visitors to interact with the Amish community firsthand.
Another draw to Lancaster County mud sales is the enticing food. All manner of delicious dishes and home baked Pennsylvania Dutch goodies can be found at dozens of food vendors set up at the mud sale. Barbecue chicken, shoofly pies, sticky buns and many more appetizing dishes can be washed down with an Amish favorite- home made root beer. There is something tasty for everyone to sample and enjoy.
Whether you are looking to experience an authentic Dutch Country weekend, witness an exciting livestock auction up close or find a handmade Amish souvenir, the mud sale is a unique tradition worthy of checking out. Just be sure to bring your boots! By Virginia Lindak