Meet Eliot Orton
As an eighth generation Vermonter and fourth generation storekeeper, I treasure the beauty and lifestyle that living in Vermont has to offer, including the Green Mountains, forests, farms and fields, neighbors, and small villages. I am rooted in a tradition that has been in my family for over 100 years, which gives me a lot of pride and sense of duty to our customers and our company.
To me, storekeeping is not just about selling stuff; it’s about obsessing over every detail that our customers experience when they walk into our stores, open a catalog, or shop on our website. It’s about making sure the front porch is swept, every department is stocked, and the food samples are out. It’s also about making sure that we truly know and love everything on our shelves, so we can not only share the facts about each product, but also let our customers know what makes them great. I find great satisfaction in locating an item for a customer, one that they’ve been searching for or have not seen in many years. It’s their reaction that makes my day! Running a store, whether it’s brick and mortar, a printed catalog, or a virtual marketplace, is like opening up your home for guests and requires all of the same preparation…times a multiple of small details. That suits my personality, and has since I was a boy.
I remember working in the store when I was not more than 10 years old. My father sat me on a back counter and showed me how to use an old, hand-cranked wood music box that had a drum-style spindle with small pins that could be changed to play different songs. With every crank of the handle, the drum would spin and the pins would open and close little hammers that allowed air in, so a note could be played. I sat for hours cranking that music box because my father never came back to tell me to stop. I imagine customers in the store got a kick out of it and somehow it planted a seed in me that storekeeping was more than selling products.
One of the products that I have always loved for its practicality, as well as its meaningfulness to me on a personal level, is our Milk House Heater. Its unique name is not familiar to many people; in fact, most people don’t know that a milk house or milking parlor is that area of the barn where the cows are milked! This small, sturdy heater, with its solid metal housing and simple knob controls, two fan speeds, and simple thermostat is a pretty amazing little unit, but the best part about it, if it’s kicked over, it shuts off immediately to prevent a fire that could burn down the barn. My grandmother, Mildred Ellen Wilcox Orton, grew up on a dairy farm just south of Manchester, Vermont and her family’s barn caught fire and burned to the ground in 2001, so this product is more than just a heater to me; it’s a reminder of the things I cherish.
On a sweeter note, I also have a few candy favorites that I’ve had since I was a kid, including Charleston Chew (the original foot long bar), Swedish Fish, Pop Rocks, and of course, our own chocolate-covered maple-cream drops.