September 2014 marks our tenth year in business.
Plain and Simple opened its doors in September of 2014. Seven years prior to that, the owners of Plain and Simple, a Mennonite intentional community living in South Evanston since 1957, brought the Ten Thousand Villages store to the space right next door.
Ten Thousand Villages sells fair trade products to benefit artisans and workers in developing countries and quickly proved to be a great match for the socially conscious shoppers of Chicago’s North Shore. “Until then we hadn’t given much thought to the 700 block of Main Street as a high-traffic shopping district.” says Allan Howe, a member of Reba Place Fellowship and the driving force behind the start of Plain and Simple. While the sales at TTV grew stronger and stronger a business space next door came available. Allan began to wonder what new common-work retail project could be kindled.
Eventually RPF discovered a connection to Amish woodworkers in northern Indiana. Verlin Miller, a friend to RPF and a master woodworker in Elkhart, IN suggested Allan look into the blooming furniture production industry that the Amish had developed just three hours down the road. Verlin was helpful in visiting many family-run woodshops and referring Plain and Simple to the best producers around. In 2008, Adam Vaughan and Josh McCallister both joined the staff as full time associates. Adam completed his MBA at North Park University in 2011. Thanks to you, we’ve made steady increases in business over the last six years and we’re ready to serve you for another 10 years. Turn this card over now for all your money-saving specials.
Why we’re here
What you can expect
We are a small store with a big heart! Our sales staff– Nina Frantz, Adam Vaughan, and Josh McCallister– listen carefully to find out what you are looking for. Then we show you in-store items, help you navigate our extensive catalog and talk about custom options to help you find just the right piece for your home. We understand that a purchase like this takes time and we’re not on commission. We are also there when it comes time for delivery, or if a service need comes up in the future.
A Small Showroom but a wide selection
Most of what we sell is made to order specifically for our customers. Because we work with so many builders, each of whom has an extensive catalog, there are actually more items available than what we have here on the website. In our showroom we try to have pieces to represent the different styles, woods, and finishes that are available to you. Since most of our pieces are made to order, you can expect to wait 8-12 weeks for your order to be complete.
Seven years ago when we got started we went with a close friend and expert woodworker to visit many of the Amish woodshops in Indiana. We were looking for attention to detail, solid technique, and striking design. We have continued to insist on these traits in our builders and are confident that you will appreciate the results. Once your special order is complete, we go to pick it up from the producers ourselves. This gives us an opportunity to notice and fix mistakes when they occur; reducing the amount of time you have to wait for your furniture.
Area producers known to us personally
Almost all of the furniture available through Plain and Simple comes from Amish families in Elkhart and LaGrange Counties in north central Indiana. We have visited most of them in their workshops and talk with them frequently at trade events and by phone or voicemail. By shopping at Plain and Simple you are participating in a strong local network of people who stand by quality, treat one another fairly, and want the best for you.
The truth is that it is getting harder and harder to find solid hardwood furniture. Where stores do carry it, there are often few options for design, wood species and finish. Other stores carry furniture with elite brands and charge as much for a name as they do for the product. Online retailers may provide low prices, but they may also be lacking in service and follow through. At Plain and Simple our goal is to provide you with exceptional value in every area.