Friday, August 28, 2009

Deal or No Deal?

By Millicent K. Brody

After a ten-day stay, it was had to leave Stratton Mountain. Even though we ended up traipsing around in the pouring rain for four days, I still loved it there.

Now that I’m back, I must comment on the question I’m most frequently asked: “So, what were the outlets like?”

I think it’s fair to say we all love a bargain; however, please don’t visit Manchester, Vermont for the outlets. There are no bargains. Most of whatever you’re looking for can be purchased at your favorite local department store or specialty shop for a lot less money. But if you love browsing country roads filled with barns and shops overflowing with antiques and bibelots, go ahead and plan an excursion.

I will admit, I’m a sucker for the Vermont Country Store. You really can’t visit Vermont without stopping and browsing the shelves, bins, nooks and crannies at Vermont’s “Voice of the Mountain”. But don’t expect to find any great deals there, either.

I was—and still am—searching for a red-and-white check cotton tablecloth. My first thought was, “What better place to find it than the Vermont Country Store?” No such luck.

What they did have (and please don’t laugh) was a “Genuine Oilcloth: Wipe-Clean, Real, Fabric Cloth, That Won’t Peel or Crack”.

How many of you remember your grandmother’s “Genuine Oilcloth Tablecloth” that was like a part of her kitchen table?

At first I thought, "Go for it. It's probably the closest thing to what you’re really looking for,” but then I lifted the size 60 x 84 cloth ($59.95), and thought, “NO!” Aside from the fact that it weighed a ton, I could not stop seeing my late mother’s face. She’d never approve of inviting friends to dinner and serving them on oilcloth, genuine or otherwise.

Then, because I had orders for several long, colorful rain slickers, I headed over to that department. Again, no such luck. However, the very kind salesperson gave me the address of a shop in Maine that would happily welcome my online order.

If you find yourself in Vermont and hankering for a bit of shopping, definitely visit the historic village of Grafton. Stop by My Mind’s Eye for a chat with proprietor and craftsman Jason Ballard. Watch as he creates everything from wooden bowls to furniture to wine stoppers, all right in his studio/showroom. (55 Bell Rd., Grafton,Vt., Also on Main Street is the Hunter Gallery of Fine Art, which offers blown glass, pastels, watercolors, and sculptures.

Don’t leave without a visit to the Grafton Cooperative Cheese Company. (533 Townshend Road, Grafton). Founded in 1892, Grafton Cheese is crafted from hormone-free cow milk gathered from family farms across the state. Aged from one to four years, Grafton Cheese was named among the top 100 cheeses in the world by Wine Spectator Magazine. Enjoy generous samples, a grand assortment of crackers, and the chance to purchase a fine selection of cheddar cheese.

Of course, it’s virtually impossible to drop everything and run to Vermont, but if you’d like to enjoy the leaves and music, the Vermont Symphony Orchestra’s ‘Made in Vermont Music Festival’ takes place Wednesday, September 30 at 7:30 p.m. (Tickets: $22 adults: $18 seniors 65 and over; $12 students: Flynn Tix at 802.86-FLYNN and at


Alex Seise said...

I wonder if the name of that store in Maine might happen to rhyme with "Bell Bell Lean"? :-) Great piece about VT--the northeast is an excellent place for NJ's residents to find some extra peace and tranquility!

Denise Broesler said...

I went to that Vermont Country Store during the winter. I was on a quest for stained glass. Didn't find it there but found a little shop that had beautiful maple leaves in stained glass.