So, with the downsizing all of our worldly possessions so that everything fits into a tin box with wheels, “shopping,” aside from grocery shopping, is a rare occurrence for us, so I was looking extremely forward to our stop in Shipshewana, Indiana.
Greg got a jump start on shopping in Illinois
and had this new toy waiting for him when we checked in to our campground in Indiana.
You know you've been somewhere too long if you buy a ukulele!!
The Elkhart area (and all of the small little towns in between, (Shipshewana being one of them) make up what is known as the RV capital, as this area is where lots of RV’s are made and it seems like most of the RV’ers we know have made a pilgrimage to the area. Many come this way for repair work, but we came for shopping. Furniture shopping to be precise.
Our furniture is still in decent shape, except for our captains chairs, which are showing a lot of wear. But, after living in the coach for awhile, there are some things that would just be a nice upgrade. Greg has wanted a recliner…and I have a love/hate relationship with our current dining area so, like most home projects, we started out with a small upgrade (new captain chairs) and it turned into a whole room make over!!
After some research, there are limited options of manufacturers that support the RV world and we had identified three places to check out for furniture—Bradd and Hall in Elkhart (who carry a few different brands including Flexsteel, Villa, etc.), Master Craft in Shipshewana, who make and supply a lot of manufacturers with furniture, and Lambright Custom Chairs in Topeka, IN.
Our furniture sits in our slides, which creates some challenges, in particular, one slide has a bump out on the floor (28" deep x 7.5" high, so fairly large), which one of the current couches is built around and sits on top of this bump out. What that means is you can't really go to just any ol' furniture store to buy furniture....well, I guess you could, but it would have to be significantly modified and potentially ruined!! We found out quickly that the bump out limited our options to two manufacturers and ultimately meant a custom order.
To wrap up a week of furniture shopping in a couple of paragraphs (as I realize it’s not as exciting for those reading this as it is for us), for the side with the large bump out, we found a Villa couch through Bradd and Hall that will be made to our size and bump out specifications and on the non-bump out side, we are going with a loveseat recliner by Lambright Custom Chairs. As I mentioned, Greg has really wanted a recliner and this should work just great. Lambright makes wall hugger recliners, which having something that reclines, but yet sits close to the wall is key—and Lambright checks all those boxes! Plus, we know several people who have the recliners and love them (and we were able to get 5% off with a coupon from RV-Dreams…so bonus!!) Lambright is an Amish company, so they don’t do much advertising, but they do a very nice business…and it was kind of funny as we drove down a gravel road and passed a few horse and buggies to get to the showroom (and manufacturing).
Our drive to Lambright
When we were at Bradd and Hall, we also found a dinette/desk combo that we thought would make a great replacement for our current dining set up and at the same time provide a nice office set up, which has been sorely missing for both Greg and me. While we liked the functionality of it, we weren’t necessarily in love with a couple aspects of it….and during an internet search, found an Amish cabinet guy who does a lot of work in the RV world (who doesn’t in that part of the country!!), so we made the trek to Nappannee to Country Craftsman and spoke with Gene. We felt pretty good that he could take the desk/dinette combo to the next level from the one we saw at Bradd and Hall and after a quote, followed by a visit to our RV for measurements, etc., the dinette/desk was ordered!!
Gene doing some measurements; Hobie supervising
So the only thing left was our Captains chairs, which are the two pieces of furniture in the coach that definitely needed attention and started this whole remodel. We thought this would be easy, but turned out to be the hardest piece of the puzzle. Our chairs have the integrated seat belts and the new seats do not, which meant if we replaced them, we would only have a lap belt and/or they could install a shoulder belt independently. Not a solution we really liked and not easy to find someone willing to do it. Then there was something that the bolt pattern had to match, and then a pull test, which is a safety test….and on and on. Way too complicated.
Bradd and Hall referred us directly to Villa to see what they recommended, so we went to their manufacturing facility in Elkhart and spoke with Carol, who showed us the pull test area, and ultimately referred us to the Villa Country Coach rep in California.
Villa's pull test area; looks official!!
My takeaway was there is a lot more that goes into these chairs than I ever thought and
was impressed with focus on safety.
Her recommendation was to see if they could get the pattern and make us new covers, which was a great idea….but turned out that Villa acquired the company who made the chairs a year after ours were made, so no go on a pattern. We ultimately located someone who will reupholster the chairs for us in the same material to match the new couches and honestly, the most economical solution as new captains chairs are quite spendy. Probably should have started with that option to begin with!!
So with all of our furniture selections done and orders complete, we did have a little time to explore and we were fortunate that we had friends in the area. Guy and Sue were getting some work done a couple of hours away the following week, so they came in early to hang with us for a bit and Jo and Craig were in Shipshewana to scope out some potential work on their suspension at MorRyde.
As I mentioned earlier, the Elkhart area is the RV capital, and as such, also is home to the RV Hall of Fame, which is a museum-like facility with all kinds of cool old RV’s. (They have other stuff too, like a library, gift store, etc, but not quite as cool as climbing around old RV’s.) We went with Guy and Sue and had a great time exploring the yesteryears of the RV world. It started off with a little movie and history in the auditorium and then we were free to explore. In some ways it was amazing to see the progress of the RV’s and then on the flipside, there were some very progressive and homey RV’s back in the day.
Very nice facility
An old pop up!
Beautiful interior of a Travco. Think everything was original.
Ikea-like kitchen in an RV
This was my favorite--Star Streak II.
Only two of them were made, built in 1988 on a 1976 Cadillac Eldorado Chassis
We thought about seeing if this furniture was available for resale,
but didn't know if it would go with our decor!!
Overall, they have done a great job with pulling all of this together and it was a very enjoyable visit. Would recommend stopping if you are in the area.
If you didn’t figure it out, this area of Indiana is heavily Amish, which living outside of Lancaster, PA for so many years was familiar for us. However, it seems the Amish in this area are a little hipper….so we called them the hipster Amish. They just had brighter outfits and just seemed a little more progressive than what we were used to.
Horse and buggies and bicycles were everywhere!!
Shipshewana has a couple of big restaurants, shopping areas, markets and a big flea market two days a week. We spent a day or so wondering around the shops and checking things out. We also went to the flea market, which they hold on Tuesday’s and Wednesday’s, and this was probably the biggest disappointment of our stop. I was thinking it might be more like a flea/farmers market, but it was all flea market and wasn't all that great. They draw lots of crowds and the campgrounds fill up for a couple of days, but ultimately, disappointing for us!
The Mercantile had several floors with a variety of shops--music, clothing, home goods, etc.
And...the best candy store ever!!
And the top floor of the Mercantile has a carousel...
Flea market booth....they all started to look alike after a while.
Also on the shopping side, we found an RV Salvage/Surplus store—Bontrager’s which we had a lot of fun roaming the isles. We found a couple of things we needed, and would definitely recommend checking this place out if you are either re-doing an RV or are looking for that odd-ball part.
Several buildings and rows and rows of RV parts!!
After one of our visits there (yes, there were multiple visits!!), the whole gang made the trek to New Buffalo, Michigan for a dinner at the Stray Dog. One of the workers at Bontrager’s recommended this restaurant (on the water), which should have taken about 45 minutes to get to, however it took about twice that amount of time because of some invisible road work (aka moving everyone into one lane with no work happening anywhere). Was a great little town that, had we had a little more time, would have been worth exploring a bit more.
Greg, Sue, Jo, Guy, Craig and me
The beach area
Our last stop of our visit was to Linton’s Enchanted Gardens (#2 of things to do in Elkhart according to Trip Advisor) and it's basically a ginormous garden center with an incredible gift shop and some very nice grounds, inclusive of some family attractions including a petting zoo, paddle boats, train rides, etc.
The gift shop had these awesome coolers.
This was my favorite!
Some of the animals in the petting/feeding area
Paddle boats....although the lake is very small, so not very scenic....or much paddling!!
While we really don’t have a need for plants or landscaping, this is a nice (and free as long as you can get out of the gift store with your wallet intact!) place to roam around and kill an afternoon. And if I did have a use for landscaping, this place would be the bomb!
So, all in all, a very productive visit with a few fun activities sprinkled in AND got to spend some time with our RV friends. Can’t beat that!! We pick up our new furniture in October, so stay tuned for some updated pictures of our home makeover…..and if anyone has a need for a couple of sofas and table, let us know; ours will need a new home!!
Thanks for following along....our next stop—northeast Ohio!!
And here's Greg uh, practicing with his new toy.
And yes, it's yellow. And yes, he picked the color himself.