With spring in the rearview and summer starting to show signs of hanging for a bit across most of the U.S., RSVLTS is bringing back its monthly Retailer Spotlight, which will shed a little light on some of our incredible retail partners across the country, each with a unique backstory and tie to RSVLTS.
First up this month is one of RSVLTS original retail partners, Mast General Store, which has multiple locations across a few states in the southeast. Boasting a fantastic history that goes back generations, we’ll let the current proprietors, John and Faye Cooper, give us a fantastic rundown of Mast’s interesting backstory and a glimpse of what’s ahead!
The original Mast General Store sits in the tiny rural community of Valle Crucis, North Carolina. A stalwart of the community since 1883, the store struggled to find its place in the changing economy of the 1970s. In the winter of 1977, the owners at that time closed the store with promises to re-open in the spring, however those plans didn’t pan out as planned.
Enter a young family from Florida who had visited the store during ski trips to the mountains. Faye Cooper is often quoted as saying: “We knew someone should save it; we just didn’t know it would be us.”
As history goes, John and Faye Cooper, along with their children, traded sunny gulf shores for an old-fashioned adventure with the purchase of the historic general store in 1979. With a lot of elbow grease, determination, and a vision for once again making the store the center of its community, the doors were opened in June 1980.
Just as many things have changed as have remained the same since that day in June. The community post office at the Original Mast Store still provides the only way to get a “true” Valle Crucis address, a once competing general store 2/10s mile down the road is a part of the Mast Store Family, and word spread across the southeast about the tiny community that is home to a time portal for old-fashioned customer service and a wide variety of goods – from cast iron and stoneground grits to technical outdoor gear.
The Mast & RSVLTS Connection
The Mast Store discovers many of its vendors through customer and employee recommendations, as was just the case with how RSVLTS and the chain started its collabs. An area manager in Columbia, S.C., was scrolling through his social media one day, came across a promotion for an interesting new clothing company and suggested we take a look.
“When David told me about this new company with fun nostalgic prints, I was intrigued,” said William Wilson, Mast Store’s men’s buyer. “I learned that RSVLTS has a very strong, loyal following, too. One of the company’s biggest fans is our main candy buyer, so it was truly just meant to be!”
Mast General Stores Today
The Mast Store Family of stores now includes 11 locations in four states – North Carolina, South Carolina, Tennessee, and Virginia – and in buildings that are in the heart of downtowns, which is an important distinction for the brand. Each store has its own personality and carries forward the legacy of its former retailers to augment the Mast Store’s story.
Carrying on the traditions of a general store is a foundation of the Mast Store’s ethos. The general store of the 1800s was a place where the community came together to support each other. To that end, the Mast Store has active partnerships with local conservation/preservation groups, mentoring and cultural associations, and organizations providing for basic human needs.
Speaking further to the topic of community, Mast also appreciates the fervor that comes with area Insiders looking to add to their collections, including the natural discussions in the stores that spawn around RSVLTS apparel and fandoms.
“My favorite part of having RSVLTS in the Mast Stores is the conversations it spurs among our guests,” continued Wilson. “They are always looking to add to their collection and love ‘the hunt’ for exclusive drops on release dates.”