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Thursday, October 16, 2008

Boston Area Country Store Evokes Memories of Vermont

Article and photo by Eric H.

The Old Country Store and Emporium in West Mansfield Village, MA, looks like someone took a village from Vermont, put it on a flatbed truck and brought it to the Boston suburbs.

Located in a Vermont-like neighborhood with old Colonial and country homes, a peaceful-looking modest old church, tree-lined streets, and a solitude occasionally interrupted by a rushing train, the Old Country Store and Emporium becomes even "more Vermont" upon entering this 175-year-old, continuously-running country store. The original store, with its worn, hardwood floors, 19th century mood lighting, post-and-beam ceilings, and an unidentifiable mix of country store aromas, immediately creates a scene actually better than some country stores in Vermont by packing what seems like every favorite, heartwarming country store item into its large-sized rooms. There's an antique candy counter with hard-to-find candies, an area artfully dedicated to fudge and other delicious chocolates, a provisions section with homemade peanut butter, Vermont cheddar cheese, fresh ground coffee, a pickle barrel, jams, jellies and maple products, unique teas and, of course, Vermont Common Crackers. The original store also offers touches of 21st century merchandise like a wide variety of Webkinz dolls, sure to delight the kids.

Perhaps the most unique aspect of the Old Country Store, however, is the "Emporium," with its old, restored, operational player pianos, restored soda fountain and apothecary shop, barber shop items, home fragrances, toys, vintage furniture reproductions and curios, grandfather clocks, cranberry glass, fine pewter, forged brass candlesticks, and floor lamps. There's even a cozy, dimly-lit upstairs attic with furniture for the bedroom, including one of the best displays of rocking chairs we have ever seen in our lifetime of frequent furniture shopping.

Meandering rooms, fully aligned with the old country store look, thankfully, seem to go on forever -- we can never quite get enough of this place. The "Grain Shed" features houseware and kitchen merchandise. The hardware section extends this trip back in time with wrought iron hardware designed locally, door knockers and other relevant merchandise. There's even an "old country store lamplighter" who can fix your old lamps and skillfully turn a jug, vase or bottle into a lamp! Where else in this big box store, modern world can you find such ingenuity?

The Stove Room houses fireplace grates, screens and hearth accessories, while the "Old Sharon Box" offers "woodenware, stoneware, mugs and cast iron products from the foundry and forge."

As if this greatest hits of country store items wasn't enough, the Old Country Store and Emporium also features a separate building called Firehouse Candles, housing an amaazing array of candles and accessories from Yankee Candle and Colonial Candle of Cape Cod.

The Old Country Store and Emporium makes for a great New England travel retail attraction in a location where you certainly wouldn't expect a country store. Once in West Mansfield Village and the Country Store, it's hard to tell the difference between this location -- ironically, right off hectic Routes 95 and 495 -- and a peaceful setting in Vermont. For us, it feels like the quickest 20 minute drive from the Boston area to Vermont!

Old Country Store and Emporium
26 Otis St.
Mansfield, MA
Tel. 508-339-8128
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