When Henry Taylor established his general store in 1883 in Valle Crucis, North Carolina, there’s no way he could have predicted how iconic the store would become. Today there are nine Mast General Store locations in North Carolina, South Carolina and Tennessee. Visitors flock to the stores to wax nostalgic and shop for a variety of goods, including clothing, shoes, jewelry, outdoor gear, regional foodstuffs, candy and unique gifts and souvenirs.
The Mast name came about when Taylor sold an interest in the Valle Crucis store to W.W. Mast in 1897. The store was called the Taylor and Mast General Store until 1913 when Mast bought the remaining half of the store. From that point on, the Mast General Store sold everything from farm equipment to fabric to food to flowers. In fact, the store’s tag line was “If you can’t buy it here, you don’t need it.” The store also sold goods and products made by locals, including local ginseng that was shipped to China.
The Mast family sold the store in 1973, and it was shortly thereafter named to National Register of Historic Places as one of the best examples of an old country store. Despite this, the store closed in 1977. The community banded together to save the Valle Crucis store, and it was ultimately bought by John and Faye Cooper who reopened the doors in 1980.
Thanks to the store’s increasing popularity, more locations were established, including the store in downtown Asheville. The store is filled with antiques (to look at, not to buy) and a wide selection of old-school candy, wooden toys, touristy items, apparel and all sorts of interesting knick-knacks on the first floor. The massive bottom floor is filled with high quality camping and outdoors equipment. The friendly staff will help you find exactly what you need for your next outdoor adventure.
Some say the store is touristy, overpriced and doesn’t mesh with downtown Asheville’s Bohemian vibe. And while it’s true you can buy t-shirts and other tchotchkes at the Mast General Store, the eclectic store does offer a peek at Appalachian history and sells handicrafts made by local artisans. It may not have the historic footprint as the original Valle Crucis store, but the retail chain has done a great job making the Asheville location feel like a genuine country store. Just remember the store is located on Biltmore Avenue in the downtown area. It’s not near the famed estate of the same name.
– If you want to explore the backwoods of Western North Carolina, you can find a great selection of maps at the Mast General Store to guide your way. You can also stock up on the supplies you’ll need for your journey.