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Country stores are a vanishing species all across America. I have watched some of my favorites disappear from the landscape.

There are some survivors still, which I incorporate into road trips whenever possible. Here are a few of my favorites…

Gillingham's in Woodstock Vermont

The Moultonboro Country Storein Moultonboro NH, has been in the same location for many years. It is a great example of the quintessential country store. It still has the potbelly stove that simmers away on every cold day. There’s the proverbial candy counter with lots of jars of treats to choose from. A wheel of cheese sits on the counter, waiting for cutting and weighing. A selection of locally produced cold sodas grace a converted glass-fronted icebox.

Behind Vermont Country Store in Weston

Vermont Country Store and Annex located in Weston and in Rockingham Vermont are worth making a special trip for. The original store, a multi-generation family business, is located in Weston and has all the expected original accoutrements; candy counter, cheese wheel, country gadgets… Plan to spend a couple of hours browsing and reminiscing there. The newer annex store has captured many of the same features in their newly built, traditionally styled New England barn setting.

Gillingham’s and Annex are a lot of fun to explore in. The original Gillingham’s in Woodstock Village is like a maze of adventure. One store area leads to another and another. There’s a well-stocked grocery and mercantile up front, with a wine room, an old-fashioned toy room and a hardware store at the back. You simply cannot rush through this location. They have an annex in nearby Bridgewater Mall that is interesting in it’s own right.

The Cabot Quechee Creamery Complex in Quechee Vermont has a lot of the feel of a traditional country store, between the Cabot store itself and the country shop next door, and all the other shops in the facility, there are hours of browsing and food sampling for an entire family.

Walk in to a traditional country store and you smell pickles, licorice, sharp cheese, perhaps a bit of dust… Ideally, there’s balsam stuffed pillows and penny candy, a cheese wheel, fishing lures, cheese cut to order, ice-cold drinks, hand-made soaps, locally made preserves, books of interest to country folk, practical aprons and wooden toys. If you’re really lucky, hard to find kerosene lamp parts, homespun towels and hand-made candles.

Gabriel at Cabot Quechee Complex

There are many country stores out there that have either evolved from the old-time variety to something more modern, with delis, convenience store items, gas pumps and video rentals. To do this, they have let go many of the old classic items that probably did not move as well. I realize this change is probably a survival mechanism and I don’t blame them at all. It is just hard to see the change… Other so-called-country stores, are modern interpretations of old-time country stores and some of these have done a pretty good job of this.

If you have a favorite, old-time New England country store, please share the details with me. I’m always looking for more!