Nightly News   |  April 05, 2011

Modern wellness goes back to basics

NBC’s Anne Thompson reports from Vermont, where the market for modern day wellness has found new roots in “Mom and Pop Store” sensibilities. Even in a difficult economy, the driving demand for products of simplicity and nostalgia has generated approximately 100 million dollars in sales each year.

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This content comes from Closed Captioning that was broadcast along with this program.

>>> if you watch us even a few nights a week, you know the world is changing quickly, and some places the violence has been unrelenting. so perhaps it's no wonder that something simple like nostalgia is making a big comeback these days. anything to get us out of today and transport us to another time. nbc's anne thompson tonight looks at one store that's making a lot of americans very happy by taking them back to basics.

>> reporter: tradition marks vermont's landscape. people take pride that life moves a little slower here. trendy is taboo. what's time-tested is treasured. no place more than at the vermont country store . a centuries-old tradition. and the orton family business for 55 years.

>> my grandfather was a wonderful marketer. and he really understood even in 1946 people were yearning for simpler times.

>> reporter: simpler times defined by everyday products bearing brand names from long ago.

>> gee, your hair smells trick.

>> i remember that.

>> reporter: gardner orton is in charge of modern-day wellness with products grandma used to use.

>> i think people are frustrated. they're going to their doctors, they're getting prescribed more and more medications. they're looking for something that perhaps is another route from that.

>> reporter: elliott orton rescues brands from history's trash heap. like tangee lip stirks a depression-era favorite.

>> we went out and bought it and worked with some of the original manufacturers to get the formulation right and bring it back to the market.

>> reporter: so you actually own this now?

>> we actually do.

>> reporter: with cabot the three brothers run today's business.

>> what color would you like in.

>> reporter: there are two call centers for catalog orders.

>> there you go.

>> reporter: and two stores offering comfort consumerism including comfort food sold with the brothers' childhood photos.

>> which picture embarrasses you guys the most?

>> maybe the picture on the top with cabot screaming.

>> reporter: this is no mom and pop operation. these simple products high in sentimental value now generate $100 million in sales each year. some of the most popular items, the distinctive fringe-edged table linens of mountain weavers. finished at a factory down the road.

>> certainly we've seen a nice uptick in business over the last two years, contrary to what the economy's been doing.

>> reporter: the quest for value and nostalgia driving demand as america seize seeks a balance in this modern day and age. anne thompson , nbc news, weston, vermont.