Mast General Store to locate downtown

Communications Director

Kristin Farley
(865) 215-2589

400 Main St., Room 691
Knoxville, TN 37902

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Mast General Store to locate downtown

Posted: 05/25/2005
Mast General Store, a unique retail destination, will open its first Tennessee store in a historic building in downtown Knoxville, Mayor Bill Haslam and Mast Store president John Cooper announced today.

 "Mast offers a distinctive shopping experience that will draw people from across the Southeast to downtown Knoxville - there's simply nothing else like it," Mayor Haslam said. "We could not have found an anchor retailer that's a better fit with our downtown and who respects and enjoys their histories more than Mast General Store.

"Mast is a great corporate citizen and we look forward to welcoming them to our community," the Mayor stated. Cooper noted that the company's stores are all located in the downtowns of their respective communities. "We have seen a vast and growing trend to recapture the spirit of downtowns across the nation," he said. "There is a great deal of pride in Knoxville's downtown, and for good reason. With the $25 million restoration of the Historic Tennessee Theatre, the revitalization of Market Square, the construction of a multi-screen theater, and many additional projects, Knoxville is on the move."We're proud to be a part of that strong move to an even more vibrant and viable downtown for shopping, dining, entertainment and livability," Cooper said.

Mast plans to purchase the building at 402 S. Gay Street, and open in August 2006. The 20,000-square-foot store will offer an eclectic mix of merchandise including old-time goods for hearth and home, traditional and outdoor clothing and gear, rugged and casual footwear and more than 500 old-fashioned candy favorites. Mast Stores also serve as sites for book signings, craft demonstrations and seminars. Mast General Store is based in Valle Crucis, N.C. where it traces its roots to 1883 as the Taylor Store. John and Faye Cooper purchased the store in 1979, and it became an employee-owned company in 1996. In recent years, the store has expanded to include locations in Boone, Waynesville, Hendersonville and Asheville, N.C. and Greenville, S.C. All stores are in buildings constructed between 1883 and 1945. In Knoxville, Mast General will occupy a building constructed in 1898 for McNulty Grocery and Dry Goods Co. More recently a White Store occupied the space. "We are thrilled with the building and its historic aspects that we believe will offer our customers a glimpse of what downtown Knoxville was like in the early 1900s," Cooper said. "The wooden floors, pressed tin ceiling, and the expansive basement will help to create a memorable shopping experience." Knoxville City Council and the Knoxville Industrial Development Board earlier this year approved 15 years of tax increment financing to aid Mast in redevelopment of the downtown property. "Using the difference between the property taxes collected on what's now a vacant building and the assessment once improvements are made is a good way to leverage private investments and enable quality companies like Mast to redevelop a historic building," Mayor Haslam said. "The sales tax that this downtown store will generate is important because the City will retain a portion that's typically designated for the state," the Mayor continued. The Central Business Improvement District, which consists of downtown property owners, also pledged financial support to the project.

"Mast General offers an experience that is unique, giving people another reason to come downtown and see what all there is to do and enjoy here," said Joe Petre, chairman of CBID. "The momentum we are enjoying downtown is unprecedented and we look forward to having Mast as a neighbor."Cooper said the company looks forward to serving customers who have trekked across the mountains to visit the stores in North Carolina."We know a large number of East Tennesseans visiting our stores in Asheville, Hendersonville, and Waynesville over the years," he said. "We're glad that we will be able to better serve our friends in a convenient location with lots of parking and in a building that has a long retail heritage and a look that will reflect that historic past."