Vermont: The Pleasant Throwback
September 16, 2009 4 Comments
I’m a New Englander at heart. Grew up in Connecticut; still root for the Red Sox; like 4 seasons; enjoy moving from state to state within an hour or two.
But for all that, I never really spent much time in Vermont. So, on a recent R&R family swing through 7 states (hey, you can do that in a day in New England!), we spent a good chunk of time in Vermont.
And I learned something about how Vermont promotes Vermont.
A while back, there was a big brouhaha about Vermont trying to keep Wal-Mart out if its borders, for fear that the big-box chain would ruin the small business economic setup in the state. I didn’t quite “get it” (overly used to NJ, I guess, where big boxes are ubiquitous), but hey, it’s kind of nice to see a group of people giving a kick in the teeth to mega-business conformity.
But, after spending several days in the state, visiting various towns and businesses, it began to dawn on me. Vermonters like to rely on Vermonters. Small business inter-dependence is a way of life in the small and scattered state, not an option.
I first grasped it when we went on the Ben & Jerry’s tour, and they talked about only using milk (non-bovine growth hormone produced milk) from local Vermont farms. Local community support was (is) a big deal for that company. And, as we visited various shops, we noted that so many of the products being offered were made locally. Cheeses, salsas, wines, beers, meats, maple-stuff, crafts – Vermont sells Vermont.
Now when I go to my local Wal-Mart here in NJ, I just see a bunch of products that, to me and to everyone else, are “root-less.” These are commodities sourced in bulk to obtain and offer low prices. And, as a customer, I appreciate that – up to a point. But as I far more eagerly opened my wallet in Vermont, I realized that the business climate had this “local support” backdrop and feel to it. That ice cream, that syrup, that cider, that chocolate, was made a by a local citizen-craftsman-company. That little store was run by a townsperson. It began to dawn on me why they didn’t want a Wal-Mart invasion. I find that I didn’t want that for Vermont either all of a sudden. It’s a way-of-life/quality-of-life issue.
Oh, and they don’t have billboards either. Do you realize how nice that is?
So, Vermont, my hat’s off to you. Keep up the resistance. Keep being a pleasant and distinctive destination. Maybe I’ll pay more for your stuff, but you know what? You’re worth it.
[Vermonters – do I have this right?]
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