The Vermont Country Store
The Vermont Country Store is a family-owned catalog, online, and retail business located in Vermont. Begun as a mail-order business in 1945 by Vrest and Ellen Orton, the Vermont Country Store’s catchphrase is “Purveyors of the Practical and Hard to Find.” This is the place to find long-forgotten items that once seemed American necessities. Lava and Lifebuoy soaps, Tab soda, Bosco chocolate drink mix, and Beeman’s chewing gum are just for starters. The company also has long flannel underwear, Chenille bedspreads, push mowers, yogurt makers, and cast iron skillets. Throw in sock monkeys, Slinkys, and the original Rock’em Sock’em Robots game and one begins to understand what makes the company so unique. The Vermont Country Store seeks to deliver the kind of durable, practical merchandise that were considered staples in the mid-20th century and still are sought after today.
The first store was established in Weston, Vermont in 1946. Vrest and Ellen bought the building, built in 1827 as a country inn, and opened the shop, inspired by the memory of the store Vrest’s father had opened in a small Vermont town nearly 50 years earlier. The Weston store became the first restored operational rural general store in the nation. Vrest and Ellen vowed to “sell products that don’t come back to people who do.” A second store has since opened in Rockingham. The stores, the catalog, and the website together serve about 1,000,000 customers annually. The corporate headquarters is in Manchester, VT.
Vermont Country Store now is run by Lyman Orton, Vrest and Ellen’s son, and Lyman’s three sons. Together they search the country for forgotten or discontinued items to add to their product list. Customers often request items, and the company website, Vermontcountrystore.com, includes a product suggestion form for that very purpose. Gee Your Hair Smells Terrific, Yardley English Lavender soap, and Jungle Gardenia perfume all made comebacks at the Vermont Country Store.
Not all products are throw-backs to bygone eras, though. The Ortons always are looking for those practical but hard to find items that make life easier today. Most items fall into the long-established categories of apparel, apothecary, food and candy, for the home, and toys. “Yankee Bargains”, discounted merchandise up to 70% off, can be found on the company’s website. Bargain hunters also can find specials of the week on the Vermontcountrystore.com site.
Coupons for discounted merchandise, free items with purchase, or free shipping can be found on several websites including retailmenot.com, couponcabin.com, and dealcatcher.com. In late November, 2009, customers using a coupon code received a free spirited eggnog cake (spiked with rum) with a purchase over $75. Free Easter cards were available with a coupon and purchase last year as well. Vermont Country Store has no coupons available at this time, however.
The corporate headquarters is located in Manchester.