Mast Store Memories: A Look Back at 1980

Store for Sale


What were you doing 40 years ago? The year was 1980, and the country was in the middle of the hostage crisis in Iran, facing a recession, and trying to solve the mystery of who shot J. R. Ewing. That’s the big picture, but what was happening in Valle Crucis, NC? Maybe it was a little magic. We’re stepping into our time machine and turning back the clock for a look at the rebirth of the Mast General Store. 

Lisa Cooper, now the president of the growing family of stores, said she wasn’t too excited when she found out they were leaving their home in Florida to re-open a general store in North Carolina. “I was 11, and I thought my life was over,” she said. “I also thought my parents had lost their minds.” 

As it turns out, both of her posits proved to be false.  

The Mast Store was closed in the fall of 1977 with hopes and promises to re-open in the spring of 1978. Evidently, those plans didn’t pan out. The store had been for sale for a time even before the closure. Lisa asked, “If you saw this picture, would you have thought it was a good idea?” She’s referring to a photo of the store with its age showing and a “Store for Sale” sign replacing the iconic faded Mast Store sign placard.  

“We knew someone should save it,” said Faye Cooper, Lisa’s mom. “We just didn’t know it would be us.”  

To set the scene, imagine you were leaving your office one day. You’d check the doors and windows to make sure they were closed and locked, and then you’d turn off the light and leave.  That’s exactly what happened in November of 1977. Now, imagine you’re an 11-year-old walking into that for the first time – oh, and that’s where you’re going to live, too.  

Every day was a cross between a treasure hunt and an archeological dig. “We didn’t know what we were going to find. It was a mess!” said John Cooper, Lisa’s dad. “There was spoiled meat in the coolers and a mishmash of other goods all over the store. We tried to salvage what we could, but there was a lot of stuff that just went away.” 

 Yes, it’s true, the Coopers did live on the second and third floors of the store for the first five years they owned the store. The kitchen and living rooms were on the second story where the rocking chairs, home décor, and Christmas Shop are now. “Our bedrooms were up in the peak of the store,” said Lisa, “where it was hot as hot could be in the summers and you could see your breath in the winters.” These areas are now used as storage. 

It was an exciting day on June 6, 1980. That was the first day the store was re-opened to the community and anyone else who was willing to take an adventure down the country lane to find them in the heart of Valle Crucis.  

“Yes, at that time, I thought my parents were nuts,” Lisa continued, “but as I’ve grown with the company, I’m inspired by the chance they took and the work and love they put into the store, the community, and our Mast Store family.” 

Check in later for more stories from our past while we celebrate 40 years of the Cooper family and the heritage of the Mast General Store.  

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