The Salesman's Samples

Intricately detailed, working salesman's samples at the heart of Indiana collection.

| December 2016

There was a time when sales of scale-model farm implements provided a reasonable revenue stream for Ervin Chupp. The Shipshewana, Indiana, man offered the models as a sideline in his bulk foods store.

But when his bulk foods sales expanded and he found it difficult to compete with prices set by individual vendors selling models, Ervin made a change. He backed away from the replicas and increased the variety of bulk foods on his shelves.

Although he no longer sold models, the Amish businessman sensed a strong interest in them among his customers. He decided to display his personal collection in his store. Today, shoppers at E&S Sales Bulk Foods enjoy viewing small-scale replicas of vintage wagons, buggies, corn pickers and tractors on the top level of store shelving. A small collection of Ervin’s most exclusive models decorates an upstairs office.

Out of each new release of the scale models Ervin sold, he kept one. After he stopped selling models, he continued to collect them. “We were surprised when shoppers came to the store just to see the collection,” he says. “Often, though they initially came to see the models, they decided to purchase food here, too. It was an unexpected benefit for us.”

Reminders of boyhood on the farm

When Ervin’s sons established Chupp Auctions & Real Estate in Shipshewana, it provided Ervin with another source for collectible models.

“With the responsibilities of our business, and because we travel by horse and buggy, it’s difficult for us to travel any distance to look at collectible models,” he says. “Sometimes shoppers have an item they want to sell. We’re always looking for rare and unique keepsakes. If someone has a collection they want to sell, we encourage them to visit our auction business.”