“Main Street Stowe, June 17, 2011. Rufus the Gorilla catching some last rays before the rain arrives.” ~ Go Stowe, Facebook post, 06/17/11
Rufus has watched generations of vacationers and area residents mingle on the friendly Stowe sidewalk each day, on their way to a shopping or dining adventure, the post office, work, the recreation path or with no particular place to go, but some time to enjoy the day for a change.
At times you may see him in the display window of Shaw’s General Store, though on sunny days he loves to sit outside for a closer look. He tries hard not to move, but inevitably smirks. Have you noticed? He simply cannot help showing his appreciation for all the children and people who smile at him. How can you not smile at such a friendly fellow?
Like Shaw’s, Rufus is both landmark and legend. “We visit Stowe annually and Shaw’s is a mandatory part of our trip. That darn store always seems to have clothing items and shoes that we must have,” announces a seasoned visitor in a short, but clearly to-the-point, review. Another visitor exclaims, “Love, love, LOVE that store!”
Trip Advisor writes, “Shaw’s General Store is uniquely old-fashioned with an inventory that ranges from socks to toys to rubber boots and winter hats. On Stowe’s Main Street, the store has just about everything including a friendly staff.” This aptly conveys in a few words the gist and atmosphere of Shaw’s General Store.
In truth, upon taking a first glance around, one may be tempted to ramble on and on about everything to be discovered on each display and shelf. The collection is impeccable, attractive and clearly aligned with the variety of tastes and needs of Stowe’s diverse clientèle.
This, it turns out, is a sure indication of the reason for Shaw’s longevity. In the true spirit of the general store, from the times of its founding by Howard E. Shaw, in 1895 to this day, Shaw’s General Store continually offers what we want, seasoned with those special extras that allow patrons to discover new trends, take home a unique gift or toy, acquire the best ever gloves or the soon-to-be favorite, top-quality windbreaker they had been looking for all along. It is interesting to note that Shaw’s General Store was Stowe’s first ski shop and Vermont’s first snowboard dealer. There is a lot of history in this establishments.
“People say that it’s like a museum,” remarked Howard E. Shaw’s granddaughter, Ann Savela. “You can’t see everything the first time around.”
In the true tradition of the general store, also, the friendly faces behind the counter do not merely stay behind the counter; they come around to offer the genuine sort of greeting that makes one feel not only welcome, but also appreciated. It should not surprise us that some of Shaw’s employees have been there for over 20 years. When people are put at the forefront, the family spirit flourishes.
Where are you going next? Have you had the pleasure of shaking hands with Rufus yet? If you are contemplating living in this area, you must meet Rufus!
Click HERE for a great Vermont Guide article about Shaw’s General Store.