I sometimes wonder if I was born in the wrong time period. Watching and reading old Westerns and classics like “Little House on the Prairie,” I sometimes think the slower, more simple way of life would be right up my alley. I guess that’s why I enjoy them so much.

The General Store in these works always fascinated me. Those that lived then depended on them for everything. From flour, to clothes, to farm equipment, furniture, and even caskets – the General Store was the only place to go. What’s more, it was an exciting time to get to go to the General Store. Today, things are quite different. Many of us dread having to go to the store, and we might have to go to three places before we find what we’re looking for. But, there’s a nostalgic store that I get excited about going to, and I will actually go quite a bit out of my way to stop at one.

Opened in 1883, Mast General Store reflects the General Store of days gone and brings comfort to the soul to just walk through. The Original Mast General Store is located in Valle Crucis, NC. According to Mast’s Facebook page, this store “was placed on the National Register of Historic Places as one of the best remaining examples of an old general store.” It even has a functioning post office in the store with the original post office boxes. All the other locations are found in revamped old buildings.

You can still get all sorts of things at Mast. Camping gear, kitchen items, jams, jellies, pickled okra, shoes, toys – the list goes on and on.  Brands like Patagonia, Columbia, Eno, Lodge, The North Face, and Birkenstock are always available. But, you want to know the best part of Mast? It’s gotta be the candy! One whole area of each of the 10 locations is devoted to barrels of candy – many of which are “old” candies that are very hard to find anywhere else. Just pick up a basket and grap the candy by the handfuls. Then you pay by the weight. It’s so much fun! River rock candy and chocolate ice cubes are my favorites.

You may be wondering where you can visit a Mast General Store.  Besides the one at Valle Crucis and its annex, the North Carolina stores are found in Ashville, Boone, Waynesville, Hendersonville, and Winston-Salem. The newest store is in Roanke, VA. South Carolina has two Masts in Greenville and Columbia. And then there is a Mast General Store in Knoxville, TN.

So, if you are ever driving close to one of these cities, slow down, stop by, and step into a simpler time of days gone by.  P.S.  Don’t forget the candy!

Keep Piper Peachin’ and Wander with Wonder


“Everybody needs beauty as well as bread, places to play in and pray in, where nature may heal and give strength to body and soul.” -John Muir

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