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Small Business

The beauty of retail in Vermont

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As the head roadtripper for Retail Across America, I’ve traveled thousands of miles for the series and met with hundreds of retail business owners and employees. I learn something new and exciting about the industry in each state, and Vermont was no exception. Our crew visited the state as part of our time in New England in August, and I wanted to share with you five great quotes and five fun facts from our time in the Green Mountain state.

Orvis CEO Perk Perkins: “One thing I do at the beginning of every meeting that we have is I read a customer’s email, Facebook post or — actually, we still get letters, too — that describe the amazing connections that we make in our retail stores, online and over the phone. What brings people back is the personal connection that we still offer in the services we provide.” 

Fun Fact: Today Orvis’ top product is the same as it was back in 1856 — the fly rod.

Harborside Harvest Market owner Todd Keyworth: “I’m president of three different corporations which means that I clean the bathrooms, I cut the meat, I grind the hamburger, I wait on customers, I make the coffee. We put in a lot of hours but we’re a big part of the community. I like the interaction with my customers, I like working closely with our staff — they are more like a family than they are employees. It’s very, very rewarding.”

Fun fact: It took Harborside Harvest Market 19 days to sell their first ton — 2,000 pounds — of fudge this summer.

Outdoor Gear Exchange co-owner Marc Sherman: “We have been running the best retail party in Burlington for 20 years, and every morning at 10 o’clock we turn the lights and the music on and get to it.” 

Fun Fact: Outdoor Gear Exchange has the same footprint as their largest competitor or national chains, but more than five times as many products.

Hero’s Welcome founder Robert Camp: “Retailing reminds me of the guy that spins seven plates on sticks. One of those sticks is building sales, one is buying goods, one is controlling costs, one is creating marketing programs — the best retailers are really great seven-plate spinners.” 

Fun fact: Prior to founding Heros Welcome, Camp was CEO of Pier One Imports and considers himself a “lifetime retailer” with more than 50 years of experience.

Stowe Mercantile owner Marc Sherman: “Retail is theater. So we have created several areas in the store that tell a story: the checkerboard and the coal stove, the piano — we have so many people that sit and play that piano, we have amazing concerts. And then we have the antiques, the Stowe gondola and things like that that people remember and causes them to slow down and remember our store, instead of just walking through.” — Marc Sherman, Owner

Fun Fact: Sherman completed a degree in dairy farm management but decided to start Stowe Mercantile instead of going into farming.

Thanks for being so welcoming, Vermont!


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