Spending a winter afternoon in Weston, Vermont, home of The Vermont Country Store, is just like taking a step back in time.
By Heather Atwell
Feb 14 2022
The Vermont Country Store in Weston, Vermont.Photo Credit : Heather Atwell
In the village of Weston, Vermont, the Village Green and the surrounding homes and buildings are so serene and untouched by time that it looks perfectly normal to see a horse-drawn carriage clip-clopping down Main Street past the general store, and it’s hard to think of a more quintessential general store in America than the Vermont Country Store.
The Ortons, proprietors of the Vermont Country Store, have carried on the family tradition of founders Vrest and Ellen Orton, who published their first catalog in 1945 and mailed it to the people on their Christmas card list. The mail order business prospered, and they opened the brick and mortar Vermont Country Store in Weston in 1946, selling merchandise that was both durable and practical, according to Vrest’s true Yankee spirit.
The business was also inspired by Vrest’s father’s general store in North Calais, Vermont, which opened in 1897. The Weston shop, where I am today soaking in all the smells and visions, was the first restored rural general store in the nation.
“I can still recall my father’s store, where most of the men came in the evenings to wait for the horse-drawn stage that brought the mail from Montpelier, thirteen miles away,” Vrest Orton said. “The store was warm and cozy. It smelled of harness, coffee, smoky kerosene lamps, tobacco, and pine wood burning in the big stove.”
The 21st century version of the Vermont Country Store certainly lives up to its tagline, the Purveyors of the Practical and Hard-to-Find. Today, the Vermont Country Store is owned by Lyman Orton and sons Cabot, Gardner, and Eliot, 7th & 8th generation Vermonters, and 4th & 5th generation storekeepers.
As you step over the threshold, you truly do take one of those metaphorical steps back in time. Here’s a look at some of the highlights of my visit to the Vermont Country Store.
I look outside and realize the sun has set. It takes about two hours to tour the store, but I think that I’ve done what many people do when they visit: I just spent an entire afternoon (and a bit of time reliving my childhood) here.
Have you ever visited the Vermont Country Store? If you can’t make it to Weston, there’s also a second location in Rockingham, Vermont.
The Vermont Country Store. 657 Main Street, Weston. 802-824-3184. vermontcountrystore.com
This post was first published in 2013 and has been updated.