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VPR Cafe: The Vermont Country Store, Still Going Strong After 70 Years

Zach Stephens
Burlington Free Press
The Orton family has owned the Vermont Country Store in Weston for 70 years. Before the store, the Ortons sold goods through their catalog, which is still in circulation today.

The Vermont Country Store in Weston began not as a brick and mortar establishment, but a paper one.

In 1945, when Vrest and Mildred Orton moved to Vermont to start a family, Vrest also decided to start a catalog. He printed the catalog in his garage and as it became popular, fans started asking if they could visit a store, which didn't exist. So, the Ortons bought a building and opened the Vermont Country Store.

Today, the Vermont Country Store has two locations, a catalog and a website to sell their products. They are self-described "purveyors the practical and hard to find," selling things like bathing caps covered in flowers, old fashioned candies and scrapple (a sort of meatloaf made of pork scraps). The store is still family-owned and run by the three grandsons of Vrest and Mildred Orton.

Melissa Pasanen, a writer for the Savorvore Section of the Burlington Free Press, said the Ortons are concerned that their stores' products appeal mainly to an older population but online sales and a newfound enthusiasm for tradition are helping keep the store strong.

"They said there seems to be a resurgence of people looking for things that are traditional, that feed nostalgia even if it isn't their own nostalgia," said Pasanen.

Recently, the country store released a cookbook that featured a mix of family recipes and classic New England dishes.

You can learn more about the Vermont Country Store in Pasanen's piece, "Vermont Country Store peddles nostalgia, new cookbook."

The VPR Café is made possible by Otter Creek Kitchenware in downtown Middlebury, offering over 70 lines of kitchenware.  

Ric was a producer for Vermont Edition and host of the VPR Cafe.
Liam is Vermont Public’s public safety reporter, focusing on law enforcement, courts and the prison system.
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