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Vermont: The Shopping

When  we set out for our Vermont Summer Outing, we had no idea of the beauty of the state. Our base was the Inn at Sawmill Farm in West Dover. From there we ventured up Route 100 then onto Route 30 around the edge of the Green Mountains to Manchester. Our goal was to then go down 7 or 7A and loop back to the Inn via Route 9.

Shopping was the goal of the day and we found plenty of places to stop, wander around, and into which to poke our heads. We knew we would find a lot of antique stores (and we did), but we were impressed with the amount of high-end crafts (glass workers, furniture makers, sculptors, artists) we came across on the trip. In retrospect, it should not have been surprising as the tranquility and beauty of the area would be quite inspiring.

However, nothing compared to the Vermont Country Store (VCS). This is the super-sized version of the General Store of yesteryear. Their tagline is “Purveyors Of The Practical and Hard-to-find.” We would have to agree with that. The amount of “stuff”inside the VCS was mind-boggling. It was hard not to touch EVERYTHING.

In June, we did an article about fly-fishing and the Orvis store in MA. We knew that Orvis has their headquarters in Vermont. We were told that if we found ourselves in the area, we should definitely stop by. As the location was only an hour’s drive from West Dover, we knew we decided to make it one of our stops. We were so glad we did as it was just spectacular.

The Orvis flagship store opened in Manchester, Vermont, in 2002. The architectural firm tapped to design this beauty was Bread Loaf, also out of Vermont. To capture the Orvis lifestyle in a building, they made liberal use of natural materials: Cedar, pine, locally quarried stones, and water…lots of water. There are two trout-filled ponds on the grounds, one of them flows from the interior of the store to the outside. High ceilings and huge windows give visitors spectacular views of both the property and the mountains.

If the natural scenery was not breath-taking enough, there is a giant stained glass window that will be certain to knock your socks off. This two-story high 12-foot by 16-foot stained glass window is named “Lure of the Fly.” The design depicts a 9-foot brook trout, in the air, with its eye focused directly at the lure in the upper left. The scene is played out in twenty separate rectangular panes with a combined weight of over 200 pounds (1,000 separate pieces and 29 pounds of solder). The window was designed by local residents Laine and Yoshi Akiyama, of Our House Design Studio, in Manchester. It was fabricated by Johnny Hinrichs and Jill Cough, of Johnny Hinrichs Studio, in Sunderland. Also a part of the window’s creation was Andrew Weill, of Manchester Hot Glass, who made the large water droplets and splashes falling off the trout’s back.

We never did manage to complete our original “loop.” The problem was that everywhere we turned was a possible photo-op. As a result we spent way more time looking than driving. By the time we were done with Manchester, we decided it was best to just go back on Route 30/100 or we’d miss our dinner reservation. It was after all Wednesday night and we didn’t want to miss their Wednesday Wine Dinner back at the Inn!

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