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Arthur's Amish stay in touch

By Sarah Miller

The Mattoon Journal-Gazette

Published: Friday, July 27 2012 4:45 a.m. MDT

Because he deals with numerous non-Amish customers, he accepts credit cards, a practice that was already in place when he took over the business 13 years ago.

"If I don't, then they can't buy it that day," Otto said of the Red Wings and other shoes he stocks in his shop.

Like almost all Amish businesses in the Arthur area, Otto has a telephone. His is located in a storage area in the back of the business.

"Very few businesses have very far to go to their phone," he said.

He checks his messages periodically depending on his daily schedule. If needed, he can be available to take calls at certain times.

A fax is used to communicate with some of his vendors, and he most often stays in contact with them via their cellphones, he said.

"Salesmen don't really care how you get information to them," he said.

Recognizing the limitations on how the Old Order Amish communicate with the outside world is a part of life for those who live and work alongside them.

The Amish area in central Illinois is located roughly within a 7-mile radius of Arthur. Currently, there are between 4,000 and 4,500 Amish in the area.

"We try to honor that this is their way of life," said Bob Doan, community development coordinator with the Arthur Area Economic Development Corporation.

Even those who have cellphones use them discreetly for business purposes only, Doan said.

"They are very practical and what they do is very applicable," said Doan, who is also the assessor for Bourbon Township.

He said they are willing to try some new things and work together to make opportunities for each other.

"They stay within their culture," Doan said. "They are very creative but very practical. The Amish are just like other people."

Information from: Mattoon Journal-Gazette, http://www.jg-tc.com

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