Back in the day, when roads between villages were long and the snows would block mountain passes for months, the country store had to be all things to all people, packing foodstuffs, medicines, clothes, hardware, and everything else the family needed to prosper. Over time, stores specialized, and the country store literally fell by the wayside.
That is, until it was revived by Vrest Orton, who opened the original restored Vermont Country Store (657 Main St., Weston, 802/824-3184, www.vermontcountrystore.com , 9 a.m.–5:30 p.m. daily, year-round) on Weston Common in 1949. The shop was so successful that it has spawned countless imitators and expanded many times over in the past decades. Now the store is a Vermont  vision of a country mall, with wood floorboards and rafters going back as long as a football field, and shelves packed with state-made products.
If you haven’t yet found that perfect block of cheddar cheese or a tin of maple syrup, you’ll find it at the Vermont Country Store. But this is not just another tacky souvenir shop; the proprietors—still members of the Orton family—have gone out of their way to closely evoke the old-time rural character of the state, taking requests from customers to stock hard-to-find beauty products, medicinal balms, and rugged clothing items they remembered from yesteryear but despaired of ever finding again.
Especially poignant for some customers are the children’s toys and candy thought to have vanished long ago. For the true spirit of old-time Vermont , this is one-stop shopping.