Saunders: Advice from The Vermont Country Store: 'Don’t Chase Trends, be Timeless'

The Vermont Country Store ran an email ad in the winter titled “Don’t Chase Trends, be Timeless.” That title intrigued me as do many of the store items shown in the Orton Family catalogs.

In 1946, Vrest and Mildred Orton opened The Vermont County Store in Weston, Vermont. Inspired by childhood memories of Vrest’s father’s general store in North Calais, Vermont, which had opened in 1897, Vrest and Mildred mailed their first catalog to 1,000 people on their Christmas card list and thus began a tradition of timelessness into the 21st century. In fact, the website invites us “to step back in time and enjoy a leisurely stroll down memory lane.”


Videos show aisles, “stocked to the rafters with penny candy, Vermont maple syrup, award-winning Vermont cheeses … personal care remedies, household problem solvers, and so much more.” Their website says that Vrest insisted that what they “sold must be useful, work, and make sense. Our family still holds true to this principle as Purveyors of the Practical and Hard-to-Find.”

One of their most requested household products from the past is Jubilee Kitchen Wax, “recreated from the original formula” that works “just as you remember!” They even sell beautiful milk glass dishes that remind me of my childhood, an antique egg beater and Gilhoolie jar opener.


Even their clothes are touted as timeless “classic styles” that “every wardrobe needs.” For women, “Ireland’s Timeless Cardigan Sweater in Merino Wool” is a big seller. Clothes are said to be of the “highest standard of quality and durability,” lasting for years to come.

Irish knits loom large in the St. Patrick’s Day e-mail advertisement, along with Butlers Chocolates, some of Ireland’s sweetest imports like Irish Whiskey Truffles and Whiskey Caramel Cream Cordials.

The Vermont Country Store surely appeals to our nostalgia for a “taste of historical experience” in “classic products” that “must be durable and practical.” A late winter e-mail headlines the Peanuts cartoon with Snoopy and Friends in sleepware, bedding, bath time, and chocolate bars. Even the timeless scents of White Shoulders and Evening in Paris can only be found in their catalogs.

Throughout its website and advertisements The Vermont Country Store emphasizes itself as “run with old-fashioned values and pride” beginning with an emphasis on being family owned and selling memories.

The email heading for The Vermont Country Store also intrigued me because I like to think of us prime-ers as timeless too, or as the OED defines “timeless”: not subject to time; not affected by the lapse of time; eternal. I like to think of us as emphasizing the things that are of eternal value—our faith, our relationships, how we spend our time. Our faith is a private matter that should bring us comfort and peace.

Our relationships are paramount as long as we are on this earth. Of highest priority are family and friends, cementing relationships in our daily routine, reliving memories of people, making new memories with family and friends to carry us into the future, and the realization that latching onto trends is no substitute for latching onto people! Even when we are bombarded with the latest trends we soon find that they are replaced, discredited, or re-runs of something in the past. But there is no substitute for family and friends and the relationships we establish throughout our lives. And those relationships should be built on truth and loyalty, honesty and forgiveness, love and honor.

How we spend our time depends upon our talents and expertise, but I can guarantee that there is something that every prime-er can engage in that will be fulfilling and suit one’s health and status in life. Sitting around moping is NOT something that any of us should engage in for very long; otherwise, it becomes a trend that gets deeply entrenched.

We can build on our past accomplishments by lending our expertise, our insights, our as-yet-untried solutions to long-standing problems. We can give our time to organizations that desperately need volunteers. We can give our money to causes that help the needy and the ill. We can be a good listener and a friend. We can read and learn more to pass on to others. We can . . .you name it!

Just as The Vermont Country Store’s “Be Timeless” ad has been good for business for the Orton family—people come from all over the world to see their wares and the catalog business is booming—so our timelessness is good for us prime-ers as well. Just as the Ortons’ Vermont Country Store offers a 100% guaranteed satisfaction with its goods and wares, I can guarantee that we prime-ers will be satisfied with our lives if we follow these timeless principles of living.

Just as the Ortons have emphasized family, on this Mother’s Day 2019, let us honor our mothers or mother figures by remembering several of her “timeless” sayings as we were growing up:

  • Because I said so;
  • Do as I say, not as I do;
  • Don’t make that face—it might freeze that way;
  • No cookies unless you finish your supper; and, most importantly,
  • There is no such word as ‘Can’t’.

And on this Mother’s Day 2019, let us all remember and give thanks for perhaps our most prized and timeless gift in our lives — our mother!

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