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July 21, 2013

Step back in time at Vermont Country Store

Lifebuoy soap. Hobnail cotton bedspreads. Evening in Paris perfume. Tangee lipstick. Watertight icebags.

The Candy Counter

The Candy Counter

Yesterday’s products — still popular — can be found in the pages of Vermont Country Store’s catalog. better still, if you are lucky, you’ll be vacationing in Vermont and actually visit Vermont Country Stores in Rockingham and Weston,Vermont.  Nestled in the Green Mountains, this quaint shop is laden with the things of yesterday. Want a wooden train set for your grandchild? They’ve got it. What a few of those cookies you munched on as a child? They still sell them. Ladies’ undershirts? No problem. Toiletries? Housewares? Linens?

It’s all there. Best of all, it’s also as close as your mailbox, in the form of a delicious catalog.

Vermont Country Store’s catalog began as “The Voice of the Mountains”. Vrest printed the catalog, consisting of 12 pages and 36 items, on the printing press in his garage, and Mildred mailed it to her family Christmas card list. Riding on the success of that first catalogue, Vrest and Mildred purchased a two-story structure in Weston, built in 1827, that had originally been a country inn and opened The Vermont Country Store in the spring of 1946. The Weston store has the distinction of being America’s first restored and fully operational country store and has been placed on the National Register of Historic Places.

As its catalogVCS mailing list grew, the store gained national attention with the publication of a 1952 article in the Saturday Evening Post by Edward Shenton entitled, “The Happy Shopkeeper of the Green Mountains”. At the time, The Saturday Evening Post had a readership of several million people and was one of the most widely read publications in America. The feature article yielded The Vermont Country Store unprecedented exposure to a national audience, resulting in tens of thousands of inquiries from people all over the country, eager to visit the store. Vrest was quick to capitalize on this new-found publicity and began expanding the store.

In 1966 Vrest was inspired by the growth of the business to open a second store on Route 103 in Rockingham, Vermont. The location features a mill pond, an authentic grist mill with a water wheel, and a restored covered bridge.

You can’t visit Vermont Country Store without hitting their candy and fudge counters. All the things you remember from childhood are alive and well and living in Vermont. Samples of fudge, jams, jellies and crackers are available for taste-testing. And you’ll want to taste. I could leave my mother there, shop for an hour, come back and find her still “sampling.”

A huge barn-like building, Vermont Country Store is a destination. It’s more than a store; it’s a look back at yesterday. If you are traveling through New England — especially in the Autumn, it’s one place you won’t want to miss.

Contact Vermont Country Store online at


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