At the newly remodeled DutchCrafters showroom in Sarasota, you can get a jelly cabinet and a pie safe—quality crafted by Amish hands—but you’ll also find outdoor furniture made of recycled plastic and hip, midcentury modern-inspired pieces that translate to today’s trends.
"We hold that tension regularly, and you can certainly find what you found at your grandma's house, but it's not what most people buy here," says Jim Miller, CEO of JMX Brands, the corporate entity that owns DutchCrafters.
DutchCrafters first opened its Sarasota showroom in 2016, and now is the first time it has undergone a remodel.
"With the Amish label, there can be a style expectation that's dated, but we value that label, too, because the Amish build great furniture," Miller says. "It's excellent in form, function, beauty and durability."
"So part of the challenge for us is to keep hosting events and bridging that stereotype," he continues.
The Amish are famously hesitant about adopting new technology—but DutchCrafters first began online. The move was a fortuitous one on Miller’s part. During the pandemic, the store had its two best years yet.
Roughly 15 percent of total revenues come through the Sarasota showroom. The vast majority—75 percent—comes from online shoppers and telephone sales. DutchCrafters also has a store on Amazon that accounts for roughly 8 percent of its sales.
But, Miller says, “while we built our business around the online customer, that doesn't answer all our shoppers’ needs.”
Now, the revamped Sarasota showroom has a dedicated style center where shoppers can enjoy a beer, coffee or wine, and sit down with an associate to look at fabric and check out different wood samples like cherry, brown maple and walnut.
But as with many retailers today, shoppers will have to temper their excitement with patience. Everything has its place—and DutchCrafters is a showroom rather than a store. Once you find what you love, you order it and wait.
DutchCrafters works with 150 Amish-owned shops across Pennsylvania, Indiana, and Ohio. Each has roughly 12 employees. While all the furniture is made in America, the screws, nuts and bolts are not, and supply chain issues have tacked on increased wait times.
Prior to the pandemic, it took between six to 10 weeks to receive your furniture. Now it's about three times that.
But fans of DutchCrafters aren't looking for the pieces you might find from a big box store, anyway. In fact, Miller calls his offerings "slow furniture" because they represent the kind of value system and mentality that stands in contrast to the fast furniture, fashion and food that often takes precedence in busy lives.
"Just like fast food, fast furniture may be more convenient, but it's not as good for you, for workers or the environment," he says.
DutchCrafters is located at 3709 N. Lockwood Ridge Road, Sarasota, and will be open Saturday, from 9 a.m. to 6 p.m. and Sunday, from noon to 5 p.m. for light bites, drinks and a storewide 10 percent discount.