History of Mast General Store

Communications Director

Eric Vreeland
evreeland@knoxvilletn.gov
(865) 215-3480

400 Main St., Room 654A
Knoxville, TN 37902

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History of Mast General Store

Posted: 05/25/2005
The Mast General Store was built, or rather, the first of its many rooms was built, in 1882 by Henry Taylor and the store opened in 1883. Henry had run a much smaller store across the road for many years prior to building of the new structure. In 1897 half interest in the store was sold to W. W. Mast, a member of a pioneer family that settled present day Valle Crucis. 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.

For the next 60 years, the store was owned and managed by the Mast Family. During that time, W. W. and his family tried to carry all the items that their neighbors might need - from plows to cloth and "Cradles to Caskets," which led to the popular saying, "If you can't buy it here, you don't need it."

Credit was extended to all who needed it and payments were often made in trade (a chicken for a sack of flour, and so on). If you wander back in the store, you can see where the chicken hatch door is in the floor (near the ribbon chest). The hatch was put beneath the floor to prevent those individuals who wanted to get more than they bargained for by taking back their chicken and bartering again.

Operation of the store was passed from W. W. to his son Howard, who continued to run the business in the long-established manner of providing for the needs of the community.

 The store was sold by the Mast Family in 1973 to a doctor in Atlanta and a professor at Appalachian State University. Around about that same time, the site was named to the National Register of Historic Places as one of the finest remaining examples of an old country general store.

In November of 1977, the doors were closed presumably just for the winter season with hopes of reopening in April of 1978. However, those plans did not pan out. Many residents of Valle Crucis banded together in an effort to save the old store and Exxon even helped with the drive to preserve the landmark.

John and Faye Cooper purchased the Mast Store and reopened it in June of 1980. Since that time the store has regained its reputation as "the store that had everything." The Valle Crucis Post Office reopened in October of 1980, thus giving the valley back its identity.

The operation has expanded in recent years to include other locations with character and history. The Annex was opened in 1982; the Old Boone Mercantile was opened in 1988; the Little Red Schoolhouse was opened in 1989; the Waynesville store was opened in 1991; and the store in Chapel Hill was opened in 1993 (however, this store closed in 1994). A store in Hendersonville was opened in August 1995, a store in Asheville in 1999, and most recently a location in Greenville, SC (2003). Mast Store Online opened in 2002.