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Living Large in Northeast Ohio

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March 5, 2016

It is 2017...deep in the the throws of digital marketing...so I am amazed that I still get catalogues in the mail.  I suppose it is a generational thing.  I browse on line to buy all sorts of things.  Somehow it just isn’t the same as sitting in an easy chair, drinking a cup of coffee while leafing through a catalogue.

 

My mother loved catalogues. In fact, she was addicted to them. Beginning in August, she would get stacks of catalogues delivered daily much to the chagrin of the post office. On a light day, she would get ten in the mail. I won’t tell you how many on a heavy day. And she would buy something from almost all of them, which in turn resulted in more catalogues sent to her. As she got older, I would stop to visit her and literally move the catalogues from her mail box to my car to my trash at home. It was a little scary.

 

I really like to catalogue shop for food, especially at Christmas. I love food. But what is delivered never matches what is pictured and it is very expensive. So now I throw out food catalogues and most other catalogues…except for one.

 

Tucked midst the naked, writhing bodies of Abercrombie and Fitch and the glitz of a Neiman Marcus Christmas is an innocuous little catalogue with a different print and paper quality. Sometimes it would even be in black and white. The Vermont Country Store Catalogue has become my catalogue of choice.

 

The Vermont Country Store is a long time family operation based in…you guessed it…Vermont. It specializes in basic, well-made stuff of all sorts…from gadgets to clothing to food to beauty and health supplies. You can buy a warm flannel robe or flannel pajamas. You can buy support hose. You can buy fade cream. You can buy Clove gum. It is a combination of your grandmother’s clothing, your mother’s toiletries, your father’s aftershave, and food you can remember from your childhood.

 

The inventory is both new and old…and the new is usually a modern tech version of something wrapped in the shell of something old. The Vermont Country Store’s specialty is finding hard to get brands from the past. In the food category, you can find such delights as Ralston Purina, B + M Brown Bread in a can, Walnettos, Cherry Mash, Original Dentyne Gum, as well as Beemans, Clove and Black Jack. Don’t forget Necco’s and Chiclets! There is also a wide variety of canned food that will bring you right back to the 1940’s and 50’s. My mother fed us canned peas and canned corn until the mid 60’s. One of the biggest surprises of my life is when I discovered I actually liked peas and corn...when frozen. Now that I am older, from time to time I crave canned string beans.  

 

You can buy an old fashioned whistling tea kettle, a wind up alarm clock with the big bells, cobalt blue and ruby red glassware, and jelly glasses. Leaf a few pages further and you will find typewriters, record players, princess telephones, and heavy duty steel canister vacuum cleaners.

 

The clothing is beyond the pale. I have purchased some of these things myself and Victoria Secret they are not. But on a cold winter’s night, you’re glad you own those night clothes that kept your parents and grandparents warm while the wind was howling outside. Fleece has nothing on some of this stuff.

 

But the real hoot is in the health and beauty section, both for women and men. Guys…when was the last time you used Bay Rum and Clubman Aftershave? For the ladies, promise her anything but give her Arpege; or Evening in Paris; or any number of scents by Coty. If that doesn’t work, how about Tangee or Tabu lipsticks.

 

The women’s hair section is a hoot. My wife used to have one of those cover all hair dryers that would go over the big rollers…all of which you can still buy at the Vermont County Store, along with old timey bed coverings and pillows…and plastic rain caps and hair nets. It’s back to the future / back in the day all mixed up into one. Oh ya….don’t forget the Your Hair Smells Terrific and Lemon Up shampoos after you shower with your Lifebuoy Deodorant Soap, if you have any skin left.

 

Here is the link to the Vermont Country Store website.  But do yourself a favor. Order something and request a catalogue. Each issue is a trip down memory lane of what was yesterday’s state of the art. When you are stressed out at night, turn off the television and enjoy some quiet browse time. 

 

Now that I’m 67, I think I will try some of that fade cream. Maybe it might fade away about fifty pounds!

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

The Vermont Country Store Catalogue