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If you haven’t met the SRMA’s (Shipshewana Retail Merchant’s Association) new Executive Director yet, she’s a friendly, spunky spitfire who is kind to everyone, has a super cute dog named Augie (see above) and loves the people of Shipshewana. Here’s Tobi in her own words:


Q: Can you tell us a little bit about yourself?

A: I am a broken lover of Jesus, a very lucky wife, and a mom of 3 adult(ish) children. My family moved to the Middlebury/Goshen area from Michigan when I was in the 6th grade, and I’ve been here since. I worked at Goshen Junior High for 15 years, the last 5 years as the school Registrar. My husband Von continues his work there as an 8th grade Special Education Teacher. This will be his 27th year. I left GJH to take a part time position as the SRMA director and to manage our day-to-day cleanings and upkeep for our inn, Morton House. I love being creative and our families repurposing shop, 2 Chicks and Chair, gives me an outlet for that creativity. I love that Von and I can work on projects for the shop together and sometimes, on the very rare occasion when the moon and Mars line up just right and the day was exactly 64 degrees…our children might join us in our ventures! LOL!


Q: Can you tell everyone more about what the SRMA is and what you do there?

A: I am learning so much about the SRMA as I dive into my new position. The most important thing I’ve learned is this organization was built on an extremely strong foundation of family, faith and community. We are a non-profit organization that is here to maintain the bridge between store owners, visitors, and locals. We plan and organize events that encourage people to visit our unique and special town. We are the connection between shop owners to keep them communicating and dreaming up new ways to work together for the good of our town. We are a group of people, with a common desire to keep Shipshewana a safe destination that encourages visitors to get to know us, so they can continue to create beautiful memories that will keep them returning. I try to use my gifts to communicate with members and hold monthly meetings. I work with a board of 5 incredible people, as well as the director from the CVB. We discuss and work on budgets, events, behind-the-scenes needs, and other matters that might come up. I manage our bookkeeping and banking, update forms and keep things on the office end organized.


Q: What is the most interesting thing you get to see or do in your position with the SRMA?

A: I get the opportunity to see the hard work of planning an event, unfold in the eyes of someone visiting for the first time. I get to witness the dedication and love our board members have for Shipshewana. Every decision they make is for the good of our town and it’s betterment. I get to hear the ideas of shop owners and see the passion they have for an event. I get to visit and learn about the merchants of this town and I get to see how much they love and appreciate being a part of this community. I get the beautiful gift of driving home from work on the most quaint and spiritual back road as gratefulness fills my soul.


Q: Is there anything coming up in 2024 that you’re particularly excited about?

A: I’m a sucker for the Light Parade in November. Everything about it encompasses the work ethic, attention to detail, excitement and “better together” attitude that the merchants of Shipshewana have. To overhear visitors say how awesome the food trucks are, or that the parade was the best yet, to see little kiddos giggle and ask the big trucks to honk their horn…just makes my heart grow three sizes bigger. I am excited and honored to get to be a part of the planning and execution of this special event.


Q: What do you love about living and/or working in Shipshewana?

A: My first job was in Shipshewana when I was 17 years old. If someone would have told me that 43 years later that my family would have 2 business in Shipshe and I would be working as the Executive Director for the SRMA…I would have spit my water out! I am beyond thankful to have grown up and matured (a little…) to let this town take over my heart. I can’t imagine a better drive to work. I can’t imagine better people to work with. I feel Jesus when I come to work. I can slow down and set a work pace that is healthy. I look forward to the day my husband retires from school, and we are able to continue a journey serving our visitors and guests together.

Planning a Trip?
Stop by the Visitor's Center for local tips, referrals, FREE coupon books and visitor's guides. We are located at 350 S Van Buren St.