Made in NC



When Our State magazine started looking for a partner for its 2017 Made in NC contest, Mast General Store seemed like a natural fit. “They believe in many of the same things we do,” said Lisa Cooper, president of Mast General Store.

"It was an amazing several hours. We looked at everything from a Wing Bone Turkey Call to popcorn."- Lisa Cooper, president of Mast Store

Last year, 2016, was the first year Our State did the Made in NC contest. It is a spotlight focused on items made in the Old North State and the many ties to its history, culture, art, music, and economy. The awards support local businesses, highlight craftsmen and entrepreneurs, and celebrate handmade products and creative ideas. Taking all that North Carolina has to offer is difficult enough, but breaking it down into categories was even harder (as was the judging of the submitted entries). The four categories are Style, Art, Home & Garden, and Food & Drink. Each entry was judged on its quality, appearance, uniqueness, and authenticity.

OurStateMadeinNC6.jpgThe Our State team said they learned a lot from the competition last year. Honing the categories down really helped entrants understand what to submit and the marks they needed to hit for consideration in the second annual event.

In addition to Lisa, who had the difficult position of judging all categories, there were several more esteemed judges, including Ashley Christensen, chef and restaurateur; Bob Timberlake, artist and designer; John Loecke and Jason Oliver Nixon, the duo behind international interior design firm Madcap Cottage; Cameron Cruse, the COO and co-founder of R. Riveter (last year’s overall winner of the competition); and Nicole Bogas, Our State retail brand specialist.

OurStateMadeinNC7.jpgOn judging day in August, all the entries were displayed in the conference room at Our State headquarters in Greensboro. Bernie Mann, the editor in chief and owner of the magazine, stopped by to introduce himself and to wish all the judges well. “It was an amazing several hours,” said Lisa. “We looked at everything from a Wing Bone Turkey Call to popcorn. I’m glad that I had members of my buying team with me to weigh in with their expertise.”

“I was pleased to have many of my thoughts validated by Ashley as we worked through the Food & Drink category,” said Teresa Plaag, Mast Store’s lead food buyer. “She is definitely attuned to what foods are trending now in her Triangle restaurants.”

OurStateMadeinNC8.jpgGreta Hollars, our long-time home decor category buyer, is excited about the Home winner. “I’m tickled that Troutman Chair with their Plantation Lumbar Rocker won their category. They are definitely a tried-and-true vendor for us at the Mast Store. Their rockers have been in our merchandise mix for as long as I can remember.”

“It was interesting to see how the other judges worked,” said Angela Warren, director of marketing for Mast Store. “Many of them approached their charge with a much more critical eye than we did, but they were looking at it through the lenses of their customer base and their demands. We looked at it more based upon potential and where someone might be with a little coaching.”

OurStateMadeinNC4.jpgEven using different judging criteria, it is amazing how much agreement could be found among the judges. “All of them seemed eager to showcase these products to their customers,” said Lisa, “and to help show what we’re made of here in North Carolina.”

Speaking of showing what we’re made of, the Mast Store in Winston-Salem will be showcasing the Made in NC category winners and the runners up on Saturday, October 7 from noon until 3 p.m. We hope you’ll have time to stop by to meet these craftsmen and entrepreneurs. We know you’ll be impressed by what you see.


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