The VT Flavor of Addison County and Brandon
Riverside in Vergennes VT
Sep 1, 2019 at 8:00 AM in Where to Eat by
As you travel through these parts, there’s no mistaking that you’re in Vermont, the Green Mountain state. From the rambling country roads and covered bridges to the verdant hills and valleys to the old red barns and grazing cows to the painted wooden farmhouses and the stacks of wood for sale by the roadside (obtained with payment on the honor system) and so much more, when you’re in Vermont, you know it because no other place exudes the same type of agrarian charm. Most everyone that comes here wants to pack up a piece of this sweet, peaceful state and bring it home.
Fortunately you can do that with photos as well as with an array of made in Vermont items that you’ll want to purchase for yourself and for gifts. (Thankfully many businesses do ship.) It’s unclear whether or not Vermonters invented the country store but know that that concept is indeed alive and well throughout the state. And even in larger shopping emporiums, they have a way of presenting their often jumbled selection of goods in a more down-to-earth manner.
W.A.G.S., or West Addison General Store, typifies the traditional Vermont country store in that you can find everything from deli items to fishing tackle to Vermont-made gift ideas and more. You can even buy fishing and hunting licenses here as you hit their ATM to buy yourself a lottery ticket. Located two miles north of the Champlain Bridge at a triangle in the road where supplies have been sold since the first bridge was built in the 1920s, W.A.G.S. ranks as a favorite among the locals and visitors alike.
Just down the road from W.A.G.S., you’ll want to hit Champ’s Trading Post, a store that sells the largest selection of Champ gifts in the region. Once here, you’ll find out all kinds of things about Champ, the supposed Lake Champlain monster.
Farther north in Ferrisburgh, you can visit a sugarhouse to see how maple syrup is made at Dakin Farm. In addition to their cob-smoked meats, maple syrup products and aged cheddar cheeses, they’ve assembled a lovely selection of specialty gift items, many of which are also made in Vermont. Thank goodness they readily ship!
Vermont and woodcrafts go together like frost on a pumpkin and you can find one of the most supreme examples of this at Vermont Folk Rocker, a shop located in Starksboro at the northern end of Addison County. Woodworker Jim Geier crafts these magnificent rockers that are both beautiful and comfortable–and also perhaps symbolic of the laidback lifestyle of Vermonters. Visiting his workshop offers a heartwarming slice of Vermont.
If you’re interested in a large selection of fine furnishings and lighting, some of which are Vermont made, check out Woodware on Route 7, just south of Middlebury.
The towns of Vergennes, Bristol, Brandon and Middlebury also feature many quaint shops worthy of the discriminating shopper’s consideration. Most of them, in fact, are as alluring as the towns themselves. You can bet that Vermonters are well read and, of course, most of them are very eco-oriented. So what could be more Vermont-like than poking around at Recycled Reading, a shop on Main Street in Bristol that sells used books, CDs, DVDs, toys, games, musical instruments, arts and crafts supplies–you name it. What a great idea! There’s surely some good vinyl there, too.
While in Bristol, check out Art on Main, a gallery/gift shop that features works from many local artists. In Brandon, go to the Brandon Artists Guild for original works from other creative peeps from the region. Vermont and art go together like cheddar cheese and apples.
Vermont Pure Essentials in Vergennes offers another way to get loose with their array of CBD products. If you haven’t tried them, this is a good place to start. In Middlebury, you can educate yourself and shop for all kinds of CBD products at Ceres Natural Remedies.
Middlebury College is a very prestigious liberal arts college, so it would be way cool for folks at home to receive a sweatshirt or other type of gift item emblazoned with Middlebury College on it from The Middlebury Shop on Main Street. Also in Middlebury, don’t miss Maple Landmark, a wonderful factory store that sells wooden toys, games and gifts. Who wants plastic anyway? Not folks in VT.
You can bet most every home in Vermont has a bed with a quilt on it–or even a quilt on the wall. Quilts go well with the down-home feel of this New England state. Check out Quilters’ Corner online or in Middlebury to pick up quilting supplies, sign up for classes or even to buy a sewing machine. They’re the real deal.
Vermont is all about wholesome goodness. You can find it in food at the Middlebury Natural Goods Co-Op and in soap at Vermont Soap, also in Middlebury. Most people here don’t want a bunch of chemicals in their food or bath products, so why should you?
If you only have time for one stop for your specialty Vermont products, you’d do well to go to Vermont’s Own Products in Middlebury. From Bag Balm hand salve to smoked sausage and all kinds of delicious comestibles, this shop showcases some of the most renowned goods of the land. They do a robust online business, so you can stock up before or after you make your way to Vermont.