Mast plans new location in Winston-Salem
by Anna Oakes
Valle Crucis-based Mast General Store could soon take its country store concept to Winston-Salem, a city of 230,000.
In September, the Winston-Salem City Council approved a $1.3 million economic development assistance package to bring the general store chain to Trade Street in downtown Winston-Salem.
The package includes a $250,000 forgivable loan, $273,600 in free or reduced parking for up to 20 years, a $500,000 low-interest loan and public infrastructure improvements totaling $250,000.
The original Mast General Store opened in 1883 in Valle Crucis as the Taylor Store and remains in operation today. Since 1988, the company has opened stores in Boone, Asheville, Hendersonville, Waynesville, Greenville, S.C., Columbia, S.C., and Knoxville, Tenn.
The store specializes in commodities such as old-time home goods, outdoor clothing and gear, footwear, work clothes, old-fashioned toys, regional books and music and more than 500 varieties of candy.
Fred Martin, president of Mast General Store, said the project remains in the due diligence phase but that Mast hopes to close on an old hardware store building in downtown Winston-Salem by the end of the year.
"We feel very positive," Martin said.
Martin said people in Winston-Salem approached Mast about opening a store there.
"Winston-Salem's definitely on the A list and the top three re-emerging downtown markets that we're looking at," he added.
A memo from the deputy city manager in the Sept. 17 city council agenda materials called Mast a "destination retailer" that "has had a significant impact to revitalize downtowns in several communities because they are a tourist and convention destination."
"That's all part of what we like to do," said Martin. "We like to go into old buildings people remember shopping in."
If the deal goes through, the Winston-Salem location would open in spring 2015. Combined with the development of 45 apartments on the top two floors of the building, the total investment would be approximately $10 million, the city council memo stated.