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The Mast General Store

I’m not a lifestyle blogger. As a general rule of thumb, I don’t write about shopping. And, yet, here we are. Why? Because those rules don’t apply to the Mast General Store.

I felt it in my bones the first time I parked at the original store location: Mast isn’t a tourist trap. It is a museum of sorts – a living legend.

Walking up to the rear entrance from the parking lot, the store appears a bit crooked. It leans this way and that. Unassuming and genuine.

It fits. As if it’s always sat there in the heart of Valle Crucis, nestled among the sinews of the Appalachian Mountains. Its weathered wood and timeworn charm beckoning weary travelers inside.

I reckon by today’s standards, it has always been there.

The Taylor General Store was set up in the 1850s by a local clock salesman named Henry Taylor. Before the Civil War, Taylor took on a partner and rebranded as the Taylor & Moore General Store.

Fourteen years later, William Wellington Mast, a nephew, bought out Moore’s share of the business, and the store’s name changed again, this time to Taylor and Mast.

Mast took sole ownership in 1913, and in all the 111 years since then, the name over the front door has read Mast Store.

To ensure the Mast General Store carried anything folks might need, William kept the store stocked with everything from cribs to caskets. The tactic worked, and locals flocked to Mast to make their purchases.

But Mast was so much more than a place of commerce to Valle Crucis. It was a trading post where locals brought wildcrafted plants and produce to exchange for goods. It was a social hub for folks to share gossip and news. And at various times, it even served as the community post office.

Mast General Store Post Office

William adapted as times changed and began selling fuel from the Standard Oil Company in 1930.

After William passed away in 1959, the store remained in the Mast family until 1973. By then the Mast General Store was one of Standard Oil’s longest-term retailers. The company provided assistance in getting the store listed on the National Register of Historic Places that same year.

The Atlanta doctor and App State professor who bought the Mast General Store struggled to keep it afloat, and it closed briefly in 1977. It didn’t reopen until John and Faye Cooper purchased it in the summer of 1980.

Rather than modernizing, John and Faye chose to honor and highlight the store’s roots. They brought in classic products, retro candies, and beloved outdoor brands. The couple breathed new life into the post office and quickly helped Mast regain its reputation as a store that has everything.

The Mast General Store has blossomed into a chain with 11 locations in 4 states over the last four decades. Despite visiting their Waynesville location frequently, I’m drawn to the original.

Who could blame me? The wood floors creak warm welcomes, and the walls echo with the laughter of past generations.

Time slows inside the store, providing a respite from today’s relentless march of progress. Look around. Load up on knives, gifts, and hiking gear. But don’t leave right away.

When you’re done shopping, grab an RC Cola and a Moonpie. Then, head out onto the porch and sit a spell to appreciate one of the few remaining places where permanence and tradition still hold sway.

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1 Comments

  1. John Hiers wrote:

    That’s so awesome, hope I can visit this place one day!

    Published 6.6.24
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