Mast General Store opens downtown

Communications Director

Kristin Farley
(865) 215-2589

400 Main St., Room 691
Knoxville, TN 37902

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Mast General Store opens downtown

Posted: 08/17/2006
Mast General Store opened today in historic downtown Knoxville - its first store west of the Appalachian Mountains - after a ribbon-cutting ceremony hosted by Mast Store president John Cooper and Mayor Bill Haslam.

The 20,000-square-foot store offers 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. The Mast Store will also serve as the site for book signings, craft demonstrations and informational presentations.

Hours are: 10 a.m. - 6 p.m. Monday-Wednesday, 10 a.m. - 9 p.m. Thursday-Saturday, and noon - 6 p.m. on SundayLocated at 402 S. Gay St., the store is housed in a turn of the century building that's been painstakingly restored and features hardwood floors, a pressed tin ceiling and a grand staircase leading to the shoe and outdoor departments."John Cooper and his team really respect and enjoy the history of downtowns, and it's evident in their transformation of this long-vacant historic building to a uniquely nostalgic shopping experience," Mayor Haslam stated. "There's simply nothing else like Mast General Store and I expect it will draw visitors from across the Southeast." Cooper stated, "We have seen a vast and growing trend to recapture the spirit of downtowns across the nation.

 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." Grand opening festivities are scheduled for August 25-27 and will include "register to win" opportunities for baskets filled with a wide variety of Mast Store products, gifts with purchase incentives from Woolrich, Smartwool, and Carhartt, and food samplings featuring an array of down-home gourmet goodies. On Saturday, August 26, Roush Racing's Woolrich truck from NASCAR's Craftsman Truck Series will be on hand from 10 a.m. until 4 p.m. along with its driver, Erik Darnell, who will be signing autographs and posing for pictures from noon until 2 p.m.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 Store occupies a building constructed in 1898 for McNulty Grocery and Dry Goods Co. Most recently a White Store occupied the space until closing in the 1980s.

Architect for the renovation was Design Innovations Architects; and David Johnson served as the general contractor. The renovation of the downtown Knoxville store yielded two unique architectural features. W.F. Norman, based in Nevada, Missouri, worked with the design and construction team to reproduce the tin cornice work. Because the pattern used to trim out the tin on the building's ceiling is unique, it will be featured in the 115-year-old company's catalogue.

Also, huge, old-growth trees were discovered on cross beams which were cut in the process of preparing the floor area for the stairwell's descent. One worker counted rings that would date the trees to around 1710.

The store employs 32 people, and Michael Johnson serves as general manager.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 visited 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."