The check-out line snaked all the way through the factory during last Saturday's "Hunter's Widow Sock Sale" at Cabot Hosiery in Northfield. Hordes of shoppers waited up to 90 minutes to buy all kinds of socks — mostly warm ones — at very deep discounts. There were young dreadlock-sporting dads, Christmas-shopping grandmother and tattooed hipsters.
Customers bought approximately 50,000 pairs over the course of the weekend, according to Executive Vice President Ric Cabot -- an increase of 23 percent over last year. "We tried to get the point across in our advertising: Even though oil prices have come down, it's still expensive. If you have a good pair of socks, you can save money on your heating bills."
Something even more basic may be attracting a record number of customers to Cabot, source of the aptly named Darn Tough brand worn by the U.S. Marines. It's the comfort of knowing that something useful is still made right here in Vermont.
"I could go on and on about the value of manufacturing and what it does to people's psyches," Cabot says of the 100 locals who work at the factory. Once a year, they get to see their customers face to face.
On Saturday, we were happily clutching plastic bags stuffed full of wool, cotton and hemp. After all, you can't do much better than 20 pairs of quality, Vermont-made socks for $45 bucks. The sale runs again this weekend, Saturday and Sunday from 8:30 a.m. to 4:30 p.m.
Ed. Note: Seven Days videographer Eva Sollberger also went to the sock sale. This is her photo of her $150 worth of new socks.