Amish Craftsmen Guild
Face of Outdoor Furniture
The Amish Craftsmen Guild’s pioneering work in sustainable, environmentally friendly furniture started with one chair. In the late ’90s, store founders Laura Armstrong-Goss and Del Armstrong were working with an Amish crafter who developed a sensitivity to varnish and could no longer craft wood furniture. So they decided to try using a new material, HDPE – recycled No. 2 plastics. The plastic, made from repurposed jugs, bottles, etc., is known as PolyLumber, and at the time wasn’t used for furniture.
“We weren’t sure where it was going to lead,” Armstrong-Goss says. “It was an experiment with this totally new material. We were bringing the Amish crafting tradition to a modern material that has amazing, environmentally friendly benefits.”
That first chair model turned out to be an outdoor furniture success, and over the next few years, the Amish Craftsmen Guild started to specialize in making versatile, all weather, environmentally friendly plastic furniture. Now, the store sells it exclusively. Armstrong-Goss works with artisan Amish craftsmen to build a stock of over 1,500 items from sustainable PolyLumber. The inventory ranges from adirondacks and rocking chairs to patio tables, benches and much more. Plus, they make dining acessories and yard art, like tulips, fish, butterflies and even lawn game equipment like bags – all with that innovative recycled plastic. “It’s been 24 years of learning and creating and perfecting our work,” Armstrong-Goss says.
The store has had several Cedarburg locations before opening its current showroom on Cardinal Avenue in 2019, where it displays dozens of pieces, including kids’ furniture. In 2019, it was named the Most Innovative Company in North America by the Business Excellence Forum, and placed in the top five for Best Retailer in North America in both 2019 and 2020.
In 2020, during the COVID-sparked supply chain crisis, many of the crafters Amish Craftsmen Guild works with didn’t have enough supply of particular colors in PolyLumber to create the usual inventory pieces. So in a pivot, using what limited materials were available, the “Surprise Chair” was created, a rainbow chair, with each board a different color. The store still sells this fun, bright, whimsical chair as a symbolic reminder of “finding beauty in what you have.”
Amish Craftsmen Guild offers over 400 color options for its furniture and will customize each furnishing to a client’s need. That means, if desired, they can add different colors for each board on a chair, including smooth or textured rustic colors, adjust heights and many more options. “We create signature, special looks,” Armstrong-Goss says.
W60 N119 CARDINAL AVE., CEDARBURG | 262-618-2105