Caution: This editorial article expresses the personal views of the author.
I have never seen an Amish shed. It’s not because I’m sheltered, or hostile, or Buddhist, or atheist. Come to think of it, I don’t even know what an Amish shed is. In fact, I don’t really think there is such a thing as an Amish shed.
Disclaimer: Byler Barns builds many of its own storage buildings. But we do also order some from the Lancaster, PA area. Those sheds are built to our specifications. Some of the craftsmen who build the sheds are Amish.
The craftsmen are Amish. The sheds are not.
Please make no mistake. We have absolutely no animosity toward Amish people, and we certainly have no hostility toward so-called “Amish sheds.” We sell them.
An Amish shed?
In fact, many of Byler Barns craftsmen are Mennonites of Amish descent. That does not make our sheds Mennonite sheds, or Amish Mennonite sheds, or Mennonite Amish sheds.
Think of it this way. Amish is people. Amish is a culture, a way of life, a system of beliefs, an understanding of the way things are and a living in community from that understanding. Sheds can’t have a culture, a way of life, or a system of beliefs. Not even Amish sheds.
I’ve never seen a shed harness up the horse and buggy and drive it to town. Nor have I heard it speak “Pennsylvania Dutch,” or heard it sing a chant-like church song. I’ve never seen a shed in hat and suspenders.
My (personal) protest is not against the Amish (my father grew up Amish), nor against Amish-built sheds. My protest is the exploitation and commercialization of the Amish name. That exploitation is usually by non-Amish. The interest isn’t really the Amish, their beliefs, or their lifestyle. The interest is selling stuff using the Amish name.
Just like anyone else, Amish employees will build what they are paid to build. If they are paid to build poor-quality sheds, they will build them. They may not like it that well–but they will build them. And if they are paid to build high-quality sheds, they’ll build those as well. So just because a shed is an “Amish shed” doesn’t mean a thing about the quality of it.
So yes, we sell Amish-built sheds. But we do not advertise them as “Amish sheds,” because in reality, there is no such thing. Nor will you see us advertising Catholic sheds or Presbyterian sheds. But we will advertise high-quality storage sheds, because that’s the only kind of shed we will build, that’s the only kind of shed we will buy, and that’s the only kind of shed we will sell.