Barre-Montpelier, Vermont
August 28, 1995
Times Argus Staff

Country Stores Immortalized
Connecticut Pair Puts Vt. Stores On Poster

For writer Jean Sands and artist Carol Wallace, Vermont's country stores are not just places that sell everything from biscuit tins to snowshoes. "To us they are symbols of a slower-paced way of life that is in danger of disappearing and needs to be saved. It's really a time trip when you walk in one of the stores," Sands said. To help preserve and promote Vermont's country stores, Sands and Wallace, a pair of Connecticut residents, decided to team up and create a 2-by-3-foot poster.

The posters, which will be sold commercially and are currently on view at the Vermont State Library, contain pen and ink drawings depicting 30 of Vermont's country stores, including The Marshfield Village Store, the C.P. Dudley Store in East Montpelier, The Store in Waitsfield and The Warren Store. Wallace's drawings are located along the edge of the poster, surrounding a watercolor montage in the center that contains a collection of items from each of the stores. On the back of the poster, Sands wrote short blurbs about the history and owners of the stores. "I was remembering the pristine acres stretching for miles along the highways and thinking about the roads in my own state blighted by malls, warehouse stores and fast food joints," Sands said. Sands then got a telephone call from her friend Wallace, who had also just returned from a visit to the Green Mountain State, and the two started talking.

Wallace told Sands she was particularly struck by the state's country stores and wanted to do something to honor the way of life they represent. "You can smell the spices, hear a dog barking outside, and listen to the ring of an antique cash register. And there's so much to see, you don't know where to look first. I really felt I could understand how it was many years ago, and why country stores are so revered by the people," Wallace said. "It was really a nostalgia for this nearly bygone era that inspired us," Sands added. Soon after, Sands and Wallace began to collaborate on the poster. Wallace eventually visited all 30 stores, while Sands saw roughly half of them. "It was a real labor of love because it reminded us of the neighborhoods where we grew up," Sands said. Sands said the C.P. Dudley Store in East Montpelier, where the clerk can open the front door with a pulley by the cash register, and the Marshfield Village Store, with its signature wooden Indian out front, were two of her favorites: The Tuckaway General Store at the Shelburne Museum in Shelburne is Wallace's favorite. "It's a real slice of Americana," she said. Wallace and Sands hope their poster will make people realize that Vermont's country stores are treasures that need to be preserved. Five hundred posters have already been sold, and Sands and Wallace plan to present a special autographed and framed copy to Gov. Howard Dean at a ceremony honoring Vermont's country stores sometime in September.

Sands and Wallace have also batted around the idea of working on a coffee table book about Vermont's country stores. The posters are available at all 30 of the country stores that are featured in the poster.