Mast Founders Featured in "Capital At Play" Magazine
- May 10, 2014 |
When a 31-year-old John Cooper first laid eyes on the Mast General Store back in 1976, he had a vision for his family’s future that involved going back into the past. “I fell in love with the store as soon as I stepped inside,” says Cooper, who had traveled from his home in Florida with a friend to scout out potential real estate. “They literally had to carry me out.”
When you first meet him, Cooper, now 68, seems like he always has a smile on his face. Clean-shaven and gray on top, his ruddy face has a welcoming warmth all of its own. He’s also exceptionally good with names. When you walk with him through the original Mast store, which was opened by Henry Taylor in 1883 and later bought by W.W. Mast, it’s impressive to see him greet everyone from staff to customers by first name, some of whom have been shopping at the store for 33 years.
Cooper can point out the trap door in the floor behind the knife display. Underneath is a dark pit that used to serve as a chicken coop. Since chickens were used as currency to barter, shop-keeps of the past used to drop them down into the pen to keep them from being stolen. Cooper will also show you how the original floors slope at crazy angles and where they’re patched with old license plates nailed into the wood. Look up and you’ll see rows and rows of hooks that used to hold merchandise or cured hams. Over there is the ancient, yet operational, post office the Coopers petitioned the government to re-open inside the store. Make sure to heed the signs warning tourists not to open the mailboxes; that would be a federal offense.
When you head up the staircase—watch your head, the ceiling is low—Cooper can show you where his family lived after they moved into the building: living and dining room on the second floor; bedrooms on the third. Today, instead of a couch or TV, there are Amish-style wooden rocking chairs for sale in front of an old coffin, a remnant from the store’s earlier days when it’s slogan was: “Cradles to Caskets—if you can’t buy it here, you don’t need it.”
Mast founders, John and Faye Cooper, were the Featured Capitalists in the February 2014 issue of Capital at Play Magazine . The article is a beautiful portrait of the Mast family of stores and especially the Cooper Family. To read the article, Mast General Store: Looks to the Past to Build its Future, click HERE.