To open the door of the East Calais General Store on Route 14 is to step back in time -- momentarily. A first glance shows a myriad of goods traditional to a Vermont village general store. But a second glance shows the Vermont Megabucks apparatus and a modern coffee maker, the gathering-place for "regulars" starting their day when it opens up at 6:30 a.m.
The East Calais General Store has the same purpose as an old-time village store: it is virtually "all things to all people." It has whatever one needs, from general grocery staples, health and beauty items, to video rentals, hardware and Sunday papers in other words, practically "one stop shopping." It is also an agent for Vermont hunting and fishing licenses and, of course, live bait in season.
It is figured that the store is between 150 and 165 years old, and has had a succession of owners, some of many years duration. Early owners were the Dwinell family members, a name still prominent in East Calais.
The layout inside the store changed only in location of shelves and check-out. A poll of customers was taken to get their ideas of improved convenience, and moved shelves accordingly the first time, it was thought, in at least 44 years.
The customer base is mainly townspeople, added to in the summer by campers at the several nearby lakes and tourists stopping as they pass by.
The exterior of the store belies its size. Aerial photos show a large L-shaped two-storied building, containing three apartments on the second floor. An ample front porch marks the entrance, and on one side are newer self-serve gas pumps.
A highly visible feature on the porch is the large bulletin board with the usual community communications. If one just wants to watch the world go by, two Adirondack-type double chairs offer repose.
As with most village stores, the East Calais General Store is open long hours.
This is a condensed version of the article appearing in Central Vermont Magazine Winter 1993 issue. For information on where to locate these magazines contact the chamber at 229-5711.
Thanks are extended to Earline Marsh, Alan Noyes, Elizabeth Ralph, Sally Finn and Jack Belding for their time selecting and editing Central Vermont Magazine articles for publication on the web.
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