Berlin Main Street Merchants work together to make the village a special place to visit
by Kyle Valentini
Second only to Cedar Point in terms of number of visitors each year, the village of Berlin is Holmes County’s oldest existing settlement. Legend has it that the town was placed at an advantageous elevation in case of attack by Native Americans.
Today, the village is still in a premier location as it sits between other communities worth visiting in the region we call Amish Country due to the large concentration of Amish residents. No longer threatened from attack, Berlin now invites visitors with open arms and a plethora of businesses that delight shoppers in search of something unique.
“We have a culture here that isn’t matched anywhere else in the world,” said Eli “Small” Hochstetler, owner of the Gospel Book Store and president of the Berlin Main Street Merchants. “Some people come here just to see if everything they say about us is true. Well, it is. We are a group of people that reach out to help each other in business and in life.”
Always a bustling community of commerce with machine shops, a foundry, dry goods stores, hotels, tailors, hat factories, blacksmith shops, a tannery and a grist mill in its early days, Berlin is still home to an assortment of businesses, albeit a bit different than the ones found at the turn of the 19th century.
Today’s Berlin businesses include attractions, specialty shops, restaurants, bakeries, lodging establishments and furniture stores. The Berlin Main Street Merchants understand the importance of working together to create an atmosphere that keeps visitors coming back time and time again.
The downtown merchants serve as hosts to a variety of events that showcase the Main Street businesses and the individuals that make them a success.
Every January visitors from all over gather in Berlin for the sunrise Pajama Party, an event that blends lightheartedness with shopping.
The annual Christmas Nativity Parade emphasizes the strong commitment to faith and family that is abundant in the people of the village.
This commitment can also be heard in the music performed on the square June through September by bands like the Stockdale Family and Holmes County Bluegrass. “Some visitor’s are shocked that we have live spiritual music on the square every Friday evening,” said Hochstetler. “That’s just how we do things here.”
Annual promotions like the Berlin Barn Storm, the Harvest Festival, Shopping Under the Stars and the Christmas Open House celebrate the diversity of the village shops and give visitors an opportunity to rub shoulders with the residents of the community that call Berlin home.
“The Main Street Merchants work together because we know that together we can accomplish so much more than what we can as individuals,” said Hochstetler. “We don’t always do things perfectly but we have fun and that spirit is apparent in everything we do. That spirit is contagious.”
The Berlin Main Street Merchants continue to provide visitors with a taste of days gone by while keeping up with the trends that shoppers are looking for. Meticulous upkeep and constant improvements make the shops of the village a must see destination when visiting Amish Country.
Berlin is for families. Right away visitors can tell that there is nothing typical about this tiny village that welcomes everyone with a smile.
“We understand quality here,” said Hochstetler. “And we have a message that we want to share. By working together we can spread that good message to everyone that comes to visit. We want to show people a taste of a very good life when they are here. We want them to feel like they are a part of something special.”