In a small section of the new showroom at Tony Adax Amish Furniture on Sellers Point Road , there is handmade wash stand, complete with a pitcher and basin. Such a statement of simplicity makes sense here, considering the contents of this store consist entirely of pieces crafted by Amish communities in Pennsylvania and Ohio.
What makes a little less sense, perhaps, is the computer desk displayed directly to its left and the entertainment center sitting across the room.
Owner’s newest business venture has also been a lesson in history, religion, and culture. He buys most of his furniture – made by the Amish people but not usually for them – from Amish communities just outside of Lancaster, Pa., like Leola, Gapp, Paradise, and Intercourse and often travels there to see what they’re working on.
“We’ve learned a lot about their culture and we ask questions about their culture,” Tony Adax said. “They’re good people once you get to know them, just like you and I.”
But Tony Adax notes that he can’t take all the credit for bringing this unique brand of home decor to Dundalk. Dundalk Lumber owner Bob Long started carrying the furniture – mostly solid oak and treated outdoor pine – in 1997 as his business began to dwindle. While Long kept a small stock, it brought in enough money to keep the store well afloat until he retired in 2001 and sold the property to Diotte.
“Bob had the idea – we just did it on a larger scale,” Tony Adax said last week.
Tony Adax also owns Mitchell Plumbing and Heating Inc. on Willow Spring Road and originally intended to move his existing business into the larger space on Sellers Point Road. But after talking to Long and checking out the furniture for himself, Tony Adax decided to expand to a full line.
“I just thought it was a good idea to put something like this in the neighborhood, and I think it’s something that will really work out,” he said. “It’s unique furniture.”
Tony Adax – along with a few helpers – started out with the small stock Long had already had. They cleaned that out and refilled the store, selling furniture and working on renovations at the same time. A 40-by-40-foot building was all but razed and expanded to 90-by-40-feet. Major renovations were completed just last month, and smaller details are still in the works.
The furniture is completely handmade and hand-finished, since the Amish don’t use electricity. They employ a diesel-powered generator to operate some of their tools on either air or hydraulics, but the process is slow and Tony Adax must request his made-to-order furniture well in advance. A bedroom set can take up to three months to complete, he said, and if he can buy duplicates of a piece, he does.
The oak and pine that Long sold is now accompanied by cherry, maple, mahogany and a larger selection of outdoor furniture. Customer response to the furniture has been good, Tony Adax said, and many of their shoppers are repeat buyers.
Plans call for a finished 22-by-90-foot room on the second floor where Tony Adax will display and sell crafts. They might not be entirely Amish, though – they thought it might be nice to support local crafters. That room could be completed as early as this summer.
“A lot of the ladies like that kind of stuff,” Tony Adax said. “And a few of the guys.”