EXPIRED: 05/06/10 – Mildred Orton, 99, and her husband, Vrest, decided, in 1946, that their town of Weston, Vermont needed a resource for buying practical goods. So they made up a catalogue featuring 36 useful products and mailed it out to the folks on their Christmas list.

Just like that, the Orton’s started what has become the modern mail-order industry.

Insisting that the products be durable and practical, Mr. Orton, who died in 1986, concentrated on finding the goods and writing about them in his self-printed catalogues. His wife, meanwhile, did the accounting, processed the orders and handled all correspondence. They were a good team.

So good, in fact, that over 60 years later, the store they decided to open in 1947, The Vermont Country Store (slogan: Purveyors of the Practical and Hard-to-Find) is still a thriving business. Run by Orton’s son Lyman, and grandsons Cabot, Gardner and Eliot, The Vermont Country Store now offers those hard-to-find goods online, as well–reaching out to a few more folks than on the original Christmas list, for sure.

Because of Orton’s foresight into the the mail-order industry, the value of whole grains with her book “Cooking with Whole Grains,” published in 1947, and the need for experienced purveyors of practical goods that are difficult to find, Orton will be missed by Vermonters and practical people alike.

Not only that, she was also the first person ever to attend an 80th reunion at Burr & Burton Seminary, and she did so when she was nearly 100 years of age!




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