I didn’t know I needed a “Fire When Ready” Bike Alarm-Sonic Weapons Center when I set out for the Northeast Kingdom, but that is how it works when you ride up there on a motorcycle. You never know what it is you need when you begin, but you always find something. In my case, I found the Evansville Trading Post and the Bike Alarm-Sonic Weapons Center.
“Fire When Ready” Bike Alarm-Sonic Weapons Center
The Trading Post is located on Route 58 in Brownington VT, just east of Orleans. The building was originally a Methodist church, built in 1850. Owner Andrew Swett’s father bought the church in 1976 for $2,500 and moved it several hundred feet back to where it now stands. He then added onto the building and created a 5,000 square foot retail space. The sign out front says guns, ammo, furniture, hardware and footwear. If they added “and more” they would not be lying.
The Trading Post has charm that is not contrived. It is not a Vermont tourist attraction. The store is a real place, with a real purpose. It’s charm has been earned through relentless pursuit of serving a community that would have difficulty without it.
“We’re open every day. You can’t just close up. People need stuff,” said owner Andrew Swett. The store is open Monday through Saturday, 6 a.m. to 9 p.m. and Sunday 6 a.m. until 8 p.m. during the summer. “We have the lowest gas prices around. The lowest beer prices too,” he said.
Andrew runs the store with his wife, Kelly. Their three children all work in the store. Andrew’s mom works there too, but she refuses any pay. “I’m semi-retired. I just volunteer here a few days a week,” she said. “I try to give her some money, but she just won’t take any,” Andrew said. They are clearly a family who enjoys each other’s company.
The store is a hardware store, an auto parts store, an outdoor store, a grocery store, and a museum. You can purchase gifts, hot coffee, homemade donuts, dolls, mattresses, fishing tackle, a wheel-balancing tool, a peavey, Coke and Pepsi. Their stock of Minnetonka Moccasins is impressive, as is their supply of Muck boots, winter boots, and work boots. Naturally, you can get your big game weighed here.
The ride to Evansville from Vermont points south can be done in at least four or five enjoyable ways. I came from Green Mountain Harley Davidson in Essex Junction, where I rented a Street Glide for the day (see related article), so my route was VT-128 north to VT-104 east, to Route 15 to 100-C in Johnson, north to VT-100 through Eden. In Lowell VT, I connected with VT-58, where I rode east on VT-58 past the bowling ball pyramid, through Irasburg, then Orleans and finally to the Evansville Trading Post.
Alternative routes include VT-14, VT-16, VT-122, 5-A past Lake Willoughby and a northern sweeping route using VT-109, VT-118 and VT-242 past Jay Peak. When you reach VT-105 jog across toward Newport and then down to VT-58.
The Swetts are motorcyclists. They own a 1981 Yamaha XS 11 Special, but cannot find time to ride. When family and the store allows, they might like to return to riding. “It was fun when we were dating and could snuggle up on it,” Kelly said. I hope that Andrew and Kelly find time to get back to riding. In the meantime, drop by the Trading Post and bring the ride to them. I am sure you will find something you like.
The Evansville Trading Post, 645 Evansville Road (VT-58), Brownington, VT 05860
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Route from Essex Junction VT to the Evansville Trading Post
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