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The Orton Family, Proprietors of The Vermont Country Store for Over 60 Years

 

Founders Vrest and Ellen Orton Publish Our First Catalog in 1945

A Christmas card list turns into a great success

 

In 1945, Vrest and Ellen Orton printed their first catalog - just 12 pages and 36 products - and mailed it to the folks on their Christmas card list. Vrest, a frugal Yankee at heart, insisted that the merchandise be durable and above all practical. His wife Ellen, who grew up on the Wilcox dairy farm in nearby Manchester, Vermont, made certain the new business was as practical as the products it sold.

Decades later, this still holds true as you can see from the hosts of products in our catalog.

First Catalog
The first catalog, published in 1945

The Vermont Country Store Opens Shop in the Village of Weston in 1946

The roots of our business are in over 100 years of Orton family shopkeepers

 

First Store
The Weston, Vermont store opens in 1946

Catalog orders came rolling in. To complement the fledgling mail-order business, Vrest and Ellen Orton opened The Vermont Country Store in Weston, Vermont, in 1946, inspired by childhood memories of Vrest's father's general store in North Calais, Vermont, which opened in 1897. The Weston shop 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 Ortons
Proprietors from left to right, Gardner, Cabot, Lyman and Eliot Orton.

Proprietors Lyman, Cabot, Gardner, and Eliot Orton: The Family Tradition Continues

Fourth and fifth generation storekeepers and still going strong

 

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, who still adhere to the old-fashioned values set forth by Vrest and take pride in being The Purveyors of the Practical and Hard-to-Find.

I grew up learning the art of storekeeping that was based on my Grandfather's principles of finding useful, functional products that the farm families of northern Vermont could not easily find elsewhere," said Proprietor Lyman Orton, the son of Vrest and Ellen, who began "working" in the store at the ripe old age of 7 and joined the family business full-time after graduating from Middlebury College in 1963.

In today's global economy, merchants at The Vermont Country Store search throughout the nation and abroad to find goods that fill the needs of American and international customers alike.

"We still go to great lengths to find products that aren't sold anywhere else," said Eliot Orton.

And each and every item is backed up with our no-hassle, no-fuss 100% guarantee to deliver quality products.