by Jordan Green

Monitoring the economic pulse of the Triad

Mast General Stores confirms plans to locate in Winston-Salem

Mast General Stores, the Valle Crucis-based retailer that mixes old-time and modern apparel and food products in a 19th century general store setting, has committed to opening a store in the Coe Building on Trade Street in Winston-Salem.

Fred Martin, the company president, said he expects the store to open in the spring of 2015.

Mast General Stores is partnering with a developer on the project. Martin said the developer is renovating the upper floors for apartments as a first step in the project. Mast General Stores will eventually own the ground level and the basement.

The Winston-Salem City Council voted in September to approve a $2.3 million incentives package for the project, including a $250,000 direct grant, a $500,000 low-interest loan and $250,000 in public infrastructure improvements. As part of the public infrastructure piece, the city will upgrade an alley that runs between Cherry and Trade streets to give people who want to shop on Trade Street more direct access to the parking deck across the street from the Benton Convention Center.

The council approved the incentives deal by a vote of 6 to 1. Southwest Ward Councilman Dan Besse cast the lone dissenting vote on the basis of concern that the store might poach consumer dollars from existing retailers throughout the city.

Martin said Mast General Stores has received an enthusiastic response from people in the Piedmont Triad.

“I’ve been with the store for a number of years,” he said. “We used to take cash and checks before credit cards. We’d get a lot of our customers from out of town, and Greensboro and Winston-Salem were always at the top of the list. We’ve never had as much positive reaction from announcing we were opening a store. We’ve had a ton of e-mail. So Greensboro and Winston-Salem are getting their own Mast General Store. There’s a lot of great things happening, and a lot of work to do.”