This year, thanks to loyal customers like you, we celebrate 75 years in business. It’s hard to believe what has changed since then and surprising to realize what hasn’t. In 1946, the entire world was just recovering from a generation of hardship—first the aching poverty of the Great Depression, then the immense depravity of the Second World War. The darkest hour in human history had just ended and folks everywhere, our grandparents included, were ready for the bright possibilities of a bold new era.
All at once, the world abounded with new energy, new technology, and new ideas. Then, as now, there were major shortages in jobs and housing. A home cost $5,600 when the average yearly wage was $2,500. A new car cost $1,100 and a gallon of gas was 15 cents. Inflation was a real concern.
Each day a fantasy from the pages of science fiction became reality—some trivial, some astonishing. Tupperware® (helpful!) and bikinis (scandalous!). Microwave ovens and electric blankets (convenient!). Car telephones (yes, really!). Nineteen forty-six also gave birth to ENIAC, the world’s first real computer; atomic energy and its mixed blessings; and to unprecedented automation—thanks to Henry Ford.
Popular culture was changing, too. In theaters, people watched “The Big Sleep,” “The Postman Always Rings Twice,” and “It’s a Wonderful Life.” “The Best Years of Our Lives” won seven Academy Awards and “Annie Get Your Gun” opened on Broadway. Radio stations broadcast the tunes of Bing Crosby, the Andrews Sisters, and Perry Como into every home. Amazingly, the “classic” singers of today such as Cher, Jimmy Buffett, and Dolly Parton were born that same year!
Amid all this change, a young family opened a country store in the hilltop village of Weston, Vermont. It celebrated a simple notion we still cherish today: Progress is a gift, yet the past is a treasure.
Gardner, Cabot, Eliot, and Lyman Orton
Proprietors of The Vermont Country Store