ReLocavore: Redefining "local"

Back to Wisconsin, my cheesehead friends

I want your socks, baby…

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(Top left) White cotton athletic socks. Military wool socks. Knee-high skiing socks. (second row) Nubbly wool socks. Cotton athletic socks. Black versions of the military sock. (bottom) More white cotton. Women’s trouser socks. Bamboo socks. (Not shown) men’s black dress socks. Red version of the ski sock in upper right.


I’ve noticed a theme in the Northeast. People don’t build Sam’s Club, they make mini Sam’s clubs periodically throughout the year. Sam and I were able to goto the COOP Caselot (cursealot) sale a few weeks ago. This weekend, we drove up to lovely Northfield, Vermont for the Cabot Hosery Mill’s 33rd Annual Sock Sale. Cabot Hosery Mill makes Darn Tough socks, but also contracts sock production for lot of other companies. They open their factory to visitors and sell of their seconds, slightly blemished, large production, returns, etc at cheap prices.

New this year was the 5 am opening time for the first weekend. Rumor has it, the sock sale started out as an event for “hunting widows,” women with free time on their hands while their husbands packed off to deer camp for the first weekend of the season. There were signs along the roadway for “Hunter’s Breakfast 5am.” I guess the ladies decided to go early too. I don’t know why anybody would want to buy socks at 5am. It’s not like they were going to run out of socks any time soon.

There were a lot of socks for sale. I mean A LOT. Men’s. Women’s. Children’s. Dress socks, military grade socks that goto the troops in Afghanistain, skiing socks, hiking socks. Socks made from cotton, wool, merino wool, bamboo. White, black, all the other colors of the rainbow. There was some organization, but other areas where there were just bins of socks and people crowded around the bin and dug through until they found two socks they liked. Digging socks are $1 for a pair. All other socks ranged from $1-$8 per pair. The military socks were 6 pair for $10 (I bet the military doesn’t contract for them that cheap.) And here’s the weird thing. There were ONLY socks for sale. There wasn’t a single other item. Outside the sock sale, the local Jaycees setup a table with homemade doughnuts and coffee. But that’s it. Socks. Doughnuts. Coffee. All you could buy.

(Check out the video on youtube.) With socks so cheap, people seemed to have eyes bigger than their wallets. Everyone was given a white plastic bag to fill when they walked in the door. Moms with small kids would gather up all of the bags and start making piles in corners of the room to cull the herd of socks. Sam and I went through our bags and put back about 4 pair. Some people were walking out with multiple bags and spending hundreds of dollars.

Sam and I didn’t go crazy. We got some really nice socks. And you should all know what you’re getting for Christmas/Hanukkah this year. All of the pictures above were the socks we bought.

The sock sale seemed to be a big enough “thing” that it has spurred other local garment manufacturers to have their own single-item blowout sale the same weekend. I heard about a t-shirt/sweatshirt sale from a factory that makes cotton goods, and a fleece sale from Double Diamond. They seem to publicize their sales with signs directing sock shoppers to their locale. Shoppers were moving among the three sales, each about a 20 minute drive away.

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