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From its humble beginnings, Shipshewana Trading Place grew into one of the most visited attractions in Northern Indiana Amish Country. As interest expanded beyond the immediate community, organic growth led to a wide range of services and sales beyond the livestock auction from which the Trading Place originated. Today, the Trading Place can be described as a destination for treasure hunters from across the country, each eager to track down and bring home a singular, generations-old prize.

Rare Discoveries, Lifelong Memories

So, what exactly can guests expect to find at the auctions and flea markets? Well, a little bit of everything. Household goods, antiques and collectibles, toys, architectural salvage, furniture… The truth is you never know what you’ll find with each visit to Shipshewana Trading Place. Visitors can plan on tracking down uncommon goods at several events throughout the year, including:

Between these events, Gates said, shoppers are bound to find items unlike those found at any other retail destination in the world. “We have a metal artist who has sold for a couple of years; he creates neat ‘junk art’ that he sells in the auction. We have some Amish-made cabinets, which people always seem to want. We have one seller who periodically brings lamps that can’t be found anywhere else. One year, we had a box of fishing lures that was worth several thousand dollars.”

More than a Shopping Experience

In some cases, auction items may even qualify as historically significant. “We’ve had World War II memorabilia and pictures that were very fragile and were probably the most unique pieces I’ve seen out there, personally,” Gates said, adding that the item sold for roughly $9,000. “There will be handwritten notes for some of these items. Sellers try to bring the history with it, and it seems like those items tend to be more sought after.”

“Shoppers have grown accustomed to making it a vacation destination. They know because we have so much to do in Shipshewana, it’s worth taking a day off,” Gates said. “When people come out to the Flea Market, it’s more than just a business transaction. It’s bigger than buying something online. It’s establishing relationships.”

In creating a memorable, more personalized experience with each visit, Gates said Shipshewana Trading Place constantly recruits new vendors to broaden the diversity of items for customers. Additionally, food vendors and even a Shipshewana Trading Place mascot — Shippy the Prospector — offer a festival-type atmosphere that Gates described as more than just a shopping excursion, but a fun and memorable experience. The onsite RV park and the nearby Farmstead Inn provide opportunities for families to gather, celebrate, or just enjoy each other’s company after a day spent treasure hunting.

“Seeing them experience a time when they can get away with family, to escape whatever it is in their lives, I think our staff takes that to heart,” Gates said. “That little extra piece that makes their experience a memory they can take back with them is really what our staff wants to create.”



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.