The Mast Store Story
In operation since 1883, the Mast Store has not changed all that much with the times - it still offers the down-home feeling commonly associated with a country general store to both its local regulars and its many visitors from all over the world.
Historic District Away from Urban Clutter
Valle Crucis became the state's first rural historic district in 1990. Within the district boundaries stand many structures important to the development of Watauga Co. and the North Carolina mountains.
Valle Crucis Post Office
Shortly after John and Faye Cooper acquired the store 1979, the Valle Crucis Post Office (located in the corner of the store's front room and complete with antique boxes) re-opened and gave the community back its identity. The identity of many rural communities across the country has been lost when their post office branches were consolidated with surrounding areas. A special agreement was entered into by the Coopers and the U.S. Postal Service for the operation of the Valle Crucis Post Office.
The Coopers Come to the Mountains
John and Faye Cooper left their home and many possessions in St. Petersburg, Fla., to take a chance at saving a mountain landmark. They lived on the third floor of the original store for several years (cramped quarters for a family of four) and performed most of the duties for running the store themselves.
Pot-bellied Stove: Local Hang Out and Tourist Conversation Piece
Early mornings still belong to the locals . . . and second-homers in the area. Conversations over a 5¢ cup of coffee around the pot-bellied stove can range from a new baby in the valley or how the crops are doing to friendly arguments over politics and "the one that got away" and other tall tales. When tourists begin pouring in, the conversation changes to topics like, "I remember my grandfather having this ..." or "I haven't seen these in years."
Mast Supports Local Cottage Industries
Residents in the surrounding area utilize the Mast Store as a venue to market their handiwork. Talents showcased include: bread-making, birdhouse building, general crafts, gout rockers and folk toys.
The Mast General Store began as the Taylor Store in 1883. W. W. Mast bought half interest in the retail establishment in 1897, and in 1913 purchased the remaining half of the enterprise. The store remained in the Mast Family for some 60 years and developed quite a reputation across the mountain region as the store that had everything.
It was sold in the early 1970s to an Atlanta doctor and a professor at Appalachian State University. They owned it until it was purchased in 1979 by John and Faye Cooper, whose efforts have brought new life to this National Historic Landmark. In 1996, the Mast Store became an employee-owned company. With its beginnings in the small, rural community of Valle Crucis, the Mast Store has expanded to include locations in Boone, Waynesville, Hendersonville, and Asheville, North Carolina; Greenville and Columbia, South Carolina; and Knoxville, Tenn. All stores are in buildings that were built between the 1870s and 1945.