There's one aspect about Vermont that sets it apart from many other states - its abundance of thriving country stores. Hold overs from the 19th century, country stores evolved to serve rural populations removed from diverse shopping outlets found in larger communities.
Everything from basic food stuffs to outdoor clothing can be purchased at a country store. Even in 2009, country stores continue to provide outlying residents with a place to buy fuel, milk, bread, meat, and vegetables, as well as a hub for socializing with friends and neighbors over a cup of coffee-to-go.
Celebrating its eighth year serving East Charlotte, Spear's Corner Store - located at Baptist Corners where Spear Street extension crosses the Hinesburg-Charlotte Road - reflects a modern, blended suburban-rural landscape that includes farmers, upscale iconoclasts, and white-collar commuters.
Owners Mike and Carrie Spear operate a pleasant store that is chock full of good stuff including basic sundries and one of the best beer and wine selections in a store of its type in the tri-county area. On warm, sunny days you can sit outside at the picnic table and watch the world pass while enjoying a fresh sandwich and a bag of baked chips.
You'll usually see Carrie Spear behind the copper-topped counter waiting on customers. She's friendly and always willing to chat if you have the time.
The Spears are especially proud of the annual East Charlotte Tractor Parade; the popular event was started by the couple in October 2000. They continue the tradition and plan a special celebration Oct. 10, 2010 to mark the parade's tenth anniversary.
Every October, a rag-tag convoy of antique and modern farm tractors, lawn mowers, and hybrid contraptions that may or may not be tractors, rumble down the road by the store to entertain a delighted crowd. Step inside the corner store and you'll see just how popular the annual tractor parade has become locally - if you tilt your head back and look up at the ceiling, you'll see a big photographic mosaic documenting the event - you may spot yourself or a friend or neighbor in one of the photos.
In a world where common courtesy is on the wane, the Spears still believe in being neighborly. They are also adherents of the "buy local" movement and feature Vermont-made dairy products as well as local speciality items such as honey, wine and ale, crafts, and much more.
Stop by and say hello.
Check it Out: Spear's Corner Store, Baptist Corners/Charlotte-Hinesburg Road in East Charlotte. Hours: Monday-Friday, 6:30 a.m.-8 p.m.; Saturday, 7 a.m.-8 p.m.; Sunday, 8 a.m.-6 p.m.