The idea that department stores are dead as an idea is disproven by the success of Mast General Stores.
Our reader Chris, who was interested in the surviving downtown department stores, wrote us to tell us that Mast had gone into an old empty store, and opened it up.
Greenville, SC has a Mast department store that is just a few years old; it’s in a former Meyers-Arnold department store building on North Main Street, right downtown.
There are other Mast locations, all in downtowns in the Carolinas and Tennessee. Not a Macy’s or a Dillard’s, but Mast stores have clothes, shoes, housewares, gifts, candy, etc.
We looked up the website of Mast, which was originally just in Valle Crucis, North Carolina. A bit of history on Mast:
The Mast General Store began as the Taylor Store in 1883. W. W. Mast bought half interest in the retail establishment in 1897 and then 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.
The Mast family sold the store in 1973, and it went on the National Register. It closed in November of 1977 but residents of Valle Crucis banded together in an effort to save Mast. John and Faye Cooper purchased the Mast Store and reopened it in June of 1980. Since that time the store had regained its reputation as “the store that had everything.”
Since then, they have expanded across the South. While they have an antique, old timey look, this is not a Cracker Barrel gift shop. It has top brands, and is proof that people will shop downtown in a downtown department store if the merchandising is good, the sales help is friendly and the brands aren’t crap.
Mast locations include:
- Valle Crucis, North Carolina
- Old Boone Mercantile, Boone, North Carolina
- Waynesville, North Carolina
- Hendersonville, North Carolina
- Asheville, North Carolina
- Greenville, South Carolina
- Knoxville, Tennessee
- Blowing Rock, North Carolina