Asheville – If you’ve never been to a Mast General Store, you don’t know what you’re missing. It’s an experience. It truly is still a mercantile.
The first rooms of the Mast General Store, in Valle Crusis, NC, were built and opened as The Taylor General Store by Henry Taylor in 1883. In 1897, he sold half interest in the store to W. W. (William Wellington) Mast, a member of another pioneer family. The store was known as the Taylor and Mast General Store up until 1913, when the remaining half of the enterprise was purchased by W. W. From then on, the sign over the door has always had Mast in the name.
For the next 60 years, the store was owned and operated by the Mast Family. During that time, W. W. and his family tried to carry everything their neighbors needed…from plow points to cloth and cradles to caskets, which led to the popular saying, “If you can’t buy it here, you don’t need it.” They no longer sell caskets, but they do still have one in the original store.
The Waynesville store, the first outside of the highlands, opened in 1991, and the Mast General Store in Asheville opened on May 12, 1999.
Both the Asheville and Waynesville stores are participating in Land Trust Day, Saturday, June 4. These Mast Stores will host representatives from Southern Appalachian Highlandss Conservancy. To ensure that it has the support it needs to continue its vital service to our community, each store will donate 20% of that day’s sales to this partner agency.
“I feel blessed that all Mast Store locations are hosting active land conservation groups. The work these partners do touches our lives every day in ways we can visibly see and in ways that we still benefit from,” said Lisa Cooper, president of Mast Store. While Cooper is the majority shareholder, Mast is also employee owned.
Tracy Tilley, Community Communications Specialist for Mast General shared, “It’s always been a part of our corporate culture at Mast; it’s something that we have considered important; and it’s not just corporate. All of our employees see land conservation as an important part of who we are. Because of that we really want to be able to support groups like the land trusts.”
Land trusts preserve our landscapes, create shared open spaces, protect wetlands and wildlife habitats, and provide recreational opportunities for everyone. These non-profit organizations, also known as conservancies, work with landowners and other associations to purchase land and negotiate easements with private property owners, ensure a family farm is passed down to the next generation, and assist in expanding the boundaries of state and national parks, among many other important roles.
Established in 1974, the Southern Appalachian Highlandss Conservancy today protects more than 75,000 acres in the mountains of North Carolina and Tennessee. In doing so, it’s saving unique plant and animal habitats, such as the Highlandss of Roan along the Appalachian Trail, freshwater sources, farmland, and pristine, natural landscapes.
“Most people think about pastoral views when they hear the word ‘conservancy,’ but much of their work is saving and reestablishing wetlands that help reduce flooding and provide fresh water, creating alternative transportation routes like greenways, or protecting wildlife habitats. That’s why it’s important to our Mast Store team to support the work of these organizations and to help others understand what they do. We thank you for helping support their work for all of us,” said Cooper.
One of the most gratifying things about being with Mast General according to Tracy Tilley is, “As employees we’re able to participate in these promotions, like the Land Trust. In the Be A Sweetheart program we gave a dollar from each candy sale to our food bank partners. As employees it’s really important to feel like we’re having an impact on the community. Our work is land conservation. Our work is putting food on the people’s tables who need it. Our work is putting a coat on a kid who really needs a coat.”
Check out either of these Mast General Stores on Land Trust Day, Saturday, June 4, where you can get quality clothing, hiking and camping equipment, old-fashioned candy, and all kinds of other goodies, in a general store atmosphere that feels like stepping back in time, and yet with products today’s folks want.