Everything old is new at Lehman's Hardware in Kidron, products sold don't need electricity

Hollywood films call Lehman's for 'old' props

KIDRON, Ohio - There is usually a flurry of activity at the front door of Lehman's, a store that, for more than 50 years, sold items that require no electricity or batteries. 

Yet it is a store that is far from the dark ages. In fact, you could call it a store that sells products worldwide in the age of enlightenment.

"Our primary objective is to serve people who have no electricity or unreliable electricity," said Glenda Lehman Ervin, vice president of marketing for Lehman's.  "Really, at some time or another, all of us in Northeast Ohio have had the experience of no electricity." 

It was Ervin's father, Jay Lehman, who founded the store with the idea of selling products to the Amish, and there are many in Wayne County, Ohio. However, most of the products are sold to people who have electricity, but who relish old-style lamps, wood-burning stoves, and other products that were familiar several generations ago.

The store is in Kidron, which has a population of less than 8,000 people. On any given day, there might be 2,000 people who visit Lehman's. Most of its business comes from tourists, who have heard of the store that is a quarter-mile long and filled with all kinds of items from clothing, to laundry soaps, to garden implements, to meat grinders. There are even toys for children who have no place for batteries or cords to plug into electricity.

Sadie Lee Stewart of Florence, S.C,, stopped in the store that she has visited for the last 20 years during her tips to Ohio.  She bought a weather vane bearing the likeness of a pig. 

"I've been looking for one of these for 10 years and I found it," she said with a smile on her face. "I'm going to put it over the top of our building where I do barbecues."

While she was talking, another customer fiddled with an alarm clock, the windup variety. The clock, like everything else in the store, is brand new. It is just an old-fashioned style.

Lehman's does business on the Internet and it boasts customers all over the world, including Hollywood. Big-time moviemakers often call Lehman's if they are looking for products to dress their sets. 

"We even tell them how to use them," said Ervin, pulling out information showing the company has been involved in several Hollywood productions, including "Cold Mountain" and "Interview with the Vampire."

"When you can provide 250 oil lamps on the same day to the set of 'Vampire', word gets around Hollywood," Ervin said.

Founder Jay Lehman is 83 years old and is often seen in the store he founded in 1955. He hit on an idea to help the Amish with their lifestyles, but along the way, a lot of people like dealing with old products that are brand new. Or is that new products that are really old. Well, you get the idea.

Visiting Lehman's in downtown Kidron, Ohio, is like taking a step into the past.  It is really a company which walks with one foot in yesteryear and the other one in the 21st Century.

                                                     -30-

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