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Monday, November 13, 2017

if You Can't Find It

At The Vermont Country Store in Weston, VT, then maybe you don't need it.
We'd heard about this store which refers to itself as the "Original General Store." The main store is located in Weston, VT, about an hour from where we recently stayed in Killington, VT. This is Weston's main thoroughfare, The Vermont Country Store is on the right. The store is America’s first restored and fully operational country store and is on the National Register of Historic Places.


Don't worry about being hungry when you get there. The rear of the store features a wide variety of foods to sample from including crackers, dips, cheeses and candies. We noticed that the samples would be refilled by store personnel when they began to run low.
The Vermont Country Store remains a family-owned and operated business that dates back over 100 years and it's still operated by the Orton family. The store's extensive inventory includes "old-time" favorites and classic products. There's an entire section devoted to sweet treats. Do you remember some of these candies?

The original general store and catalog business was built on the premise that merchandise sold must be durable and above all practical, a tradition it still maintains. According to the posted Customer Bill of Rights, customer satisfaction is top priority. Every item is backed by a no-hassle 100% guarantee. Forever.

Our late October visit was just in time to see this extensive displays of Christmas-themed items including vintage-themed candles, lights and figurines.





The toy section included new toys modeled after earlier vintage ones including Rock-Em, Sock-Em Robots, Magic 8-Ball and Pick-Up sticks. (Do you remember how adults liked played with Rock-Em, Sock-Em Robots in the Santa Clause film?)

Not only did was there a country sink, but also a vintage washing machine and many related house wares. I recall that my mother used a laundry sprinkler top to dampen clothes before ironing them.

In 1897, Gardner Lyman Orton opened a general store with his father-in-law Melvin Teachout in Calais, VT. Gardner's son, Vrest, was born that year. The Teachout-Orton general store was the model for The Vermont Country Store.
Syrup display at the Vermont Country Store

Vrest served in WWI, attended Harvard and worked in NYC before returning to Vermont in 1930 and settling in the village of Weston. He married Mildred Ellen Wilcox in 1936, and founded a book publishing company, The Countryman Press
Vrest and Mildred Ellen Orton

In the fall of 1945, the Ortons started a mail-order business through The Voice of the Mountains catalog. The 12-page, 36-item catalog was produced on a printing press in their garage and mailed to 12,000 people at Christmas. A frugal Yankee, Orton insisted that items must be “useful, work and make sense.” Based on the catalog's success, the Ortons purchased a 1927 former country inn and opened The Vermont Country Store in Weston, VT in 1946. 

As its catalog mailing list grew, the store gained national attention with the publication of a 1952 article in the Saturday Evening Post magazine, "The Happy Shopkeeper of the Green Mountains." The magazine was one of the most widely-read publications in America with a readership of several million people. 

The feature article gave the store exposure to a national audience. People all over the country wanted to visit the store. That tradition continues today when in summer and fall months, the parking area is filled with busloads of tourist groups. Thankfully, our visit was in the "off" season after summer and leaf pepping had ended and before ski season starts and we didn't have any crowds in the store.


Thankfully, our visit was in the "off" season after summer and leaf pepping had ended and before ski season starts and we didn't have any crowds in the store. 
Yes, we looked at everything and yet managed to leave without buying anything more than some fudge. The selection is extensive, and most prices seemed to be higher than in other places we've visited.

18 comments:

baili said...

Wow ,what wonderful and historical genral store !

never saw such sooper cool stuff at one place on same time including edible things.
such a lovely couple who owned this place and publication too.
i love reading about such glorious people from past or sounds that people of past time were most like "gold"

baili said...

I always adore your beautiful smiling photos my friend ,you guys make great couple together!

Linda said...

We have run across two "general stores" like this in the last year. One is in our home state Louisiana and the other in Alabama. There surely are more. But these stores have so much merchandise that I doubt that they ever have to restock. Except maybe the fudge😂Wonder how long that had been sitting on the shelf? Hope it was fresh😋Linda@Wetcreek Blog

Anvilcloud said...

It looks fascinating, and you bought fudge. Fudge. Awesome.

DUTA said...

That's what I call a 'place with character'. It has history, variety, family ownership background. It looks well from the outside and is well- stocked inside.
Excellent pictures!

Sandra said...

we had a sink and a washing machine just like these, and many of the things I see, mothers basement looked like the shelves filled with jams and jellies and jars of veggies and pickles. I love the outside of the store. it would be fun to visit.

Emma Springfield said...

That was certainly a trip down memory lane. You'll never guess what jumped out at me. It was the laundry sprinklers. I spent a lot of time with them because I did the laundry for our family. It got me out of doing dishes for two days.

Karen Lakis said...

Ah yes - I know this store well! We will often take our friends there when they come to visit. It seems there is something for everyone - and some of the products, I haven't seen since I was a teenager. We also love all the samples - and sometimes go there to have what we call "sample lunch" - as we sample our way through the store. No worries for the Vermont Country Store - we generally buy more than enough to make up for our "free" lunch!

Denise inVA said...

Those old New England stores look like so much fun to browse around. Thank you for sharing your visit.

William Kendall said...

I can see how a place like this would really draw the visitor right in! Excellent shots!

gigihawaii said...

Very interesting store. I liked looking at the antique washing machine.

Red said...

Sounds like a friendly nostalgic place to visit.

Doris said...

That was fun, thanks for taking me along through the store :) Always love your selfies!

diane b said...

What an amazing store with an amazing history. It was good that you missed the crowds. Well planned.

Valerie said...

A store very similar to the one you wrote about has recently opened as an addition to a garden centre. I looked in amazement at some of the never heard of goods but found it all very interesting. My education needs improving, methinks.

L. D. said...

That looks like a really fun store to visit. I like what it sells and the store itself.

Connie said...

So much to see in there. It looks like a fun place to visit.

My name is Erika. said...

I have been to the other Vermont Country store location. I had never been to either and this year ended up going 3 times. :) They did have some cool things. It's interest to poke around there and see what you kind find, isn't it? I bet all the Christmas things were cool. Too bad they are kind of pricey. And yes, I will let you know next time I go the Chick-fill-A and maybe we can meet up. Hugs-Erika

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