Ep. 4: Why I Started Selling Amish Furniture Online (with DutchCrafters CEO Jim Miller)

Jake Smucker 18/11/2020
The Amish Furniture Podcast
The Amish Furniture Podcast
Ep. 4: Why I Started Selling Amish Furniture Online (with DutchCrafters CEO Jim Miller)
Ever wondered how Amish Furniture came to be sold online? Well, in Episode 4 of the Amish furniture podcast, we’re here to bring that story. Beth and Milca invite on Jim Miller, one of the pioneers in bringing Amish furniture to the internet. Jim is CEO of DutchCrafters, the largest Amish furniture store online, at dutchcrafters.com

Selling Amish Furniture Online

Jim and his business partner Miao didn’t set out to create an Amish furniture business, but that’s where they ended up.

Before Furniture

Before furniture, Jim and Miao developed a model for an eCommerce business, selling products online. They started off with a number of product types, but soon found some success with Amish products–specifically, Amish outdoor decor from Lancaster County, PA.

The first Amish products Jim and Linse sold online were Amish Made Lighthouses for outdoor decor, still available today. If you’d like to read the blog Beth mentioned at 7:30 in the episode, you can find it here: 5 Ways to Use Wagons, Wheelbarrows, and Windmills for Outdoor Decor.

While driving through the Lancaster-area cornfields, Jim and his wife Linse found themselves drawn to the beautiful, solid wood indoor furniture displayed in showrooms in the area. Linse found that it was furniture she’d like to have in her home and asked, “Why don’t we sell Amish indoor furniture online?” Jim was skeptical it could work, but Linse’s persistence paid off and he agreed to give it a shot. He was quickly glad that he did.  

The Early Days of Amish Furniture on the Internet

As they started dutchcrafters.com, taking orders and arranging deliveries happened in their home living room. Nevertheless, in the first full year of selling Amish Furniture online, it quickly became their top-selling brand and most popular website with over half a million dollars in revenue that first year. From the start, they were part of a small group of pioneers beginning to sell Amish made goods online to a national audience.

Growth and Trust

The next step in DutchCrafters growth came through the expansion of their product listings, from 5000 to 7000 to 10,000. They achieved this by expanding into Ohio and beginning work with numerous Ohio woodshops, all with their own product lines and fresh designs. Soon after, it was time to expand into Indiana. They faced resistance and rejections as they sought to grow, but with success, they soon earned the trust of their partners across the midwest. The great recession of 2008-2010 reinforced their relationship with woodworkers. As many “brick-and-mortar” stores across the country lost business and went bankrupt, online sales remained strong. Thus, DutchCrafters was able to help preserve jobs and support the Amish communities we worked with.

DutchCrafters Amish Furniture Today

Today, the online Amish Furniture marketplace is a highly competitive field. Jim says that he has a number of “direct competitors” who do a fantastic job serving customers. However, even as DutchCrafters has grown to be the largest online store for Amish furniture, Jim increasingly faces additional competition. This comes not just from Amish furniture retailers, but also from other high-end furniture retailers online.

Today, Jim faces new challenges every day, most notably, the COVID-19 pandemic. Through times of great concern for his employees and his company, DutchCrafters continues to weather the storm and provide furniture to customers across the country and jobs in Sarasota and across the midwest.

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