A Dog is Good Business Trip Takes Us Back in Time
This past week I had the pleasure of getting out of the Dog is Good office and spending a day in one of the most alluring locations I have ever visited in the Southeast. While there are still places I have yet to see first-hand that share a similar beauty, I can honestly report that my trip to Valle Crucis, NC brought me “back in time” and took my breath away. Equally rewarding to the serenity of the pristine mountains, beautiful lakes, rolling meadows, and historic structures and landmarks throughout the town, was the warm hospitality provided by the phenomenal team of Mast General Stores.
The purpose of my trip with Christy Techmanski, Dog is Good’s National Sales Director (aka- rock star and all around amazing human being), was to participate in the annual sales summit for one of our favorite accounts, Mast General Stores. When we decided to meet the members of the Mast General Family personally – and I say family because that is culture that the founders have cultivated, we had no idea what memorable adventure would be in store.
As we drove out of Charlotte, NC along the winding roads through the mountains, we were engulfed in nature. The large trees, random lakes, and occasional appearance of deer was incredibly calming. During the 2 hour drive away from the city, I must have exclaimed “OMG- look at that! Look over there! Wow! “ As the designated driver, poor Christy tolerated my excitement. Because we had deemed winding roads treacherous, she could not take her eyes off her task at hand. Despite my squeals of wonderment every few minutes, she got us safely to our destination, the Valle Crucis conference center. This gorgeous facility was built in 1848 and is now listed on the National Historic Register. I felt like I was walking back in time as I entered the rustic building and walked along the warped original flooring made of wood. The front “wrap around porch” was lined with rocking chairs so we could sit to view the brightly star lit sky at night and witness the glorious sunrise in the morning. Unbelievable!
Also staying at the facility were several team members from the different Mast General Stores located in NC and TN. Their generous and warm welcome made us feel right at home. Conversation quickly “went to the dogs” as we all shared stories about the life we shared with our canine family members. It was really a special treat for Christy and I to connect with everyone on such a personal level. The bonus for me would appear early the next morning in the form of 8lbs of fur covered bliss. Tracey Thompson, the buyer for the Mast General Stores, brought her 10 week old rescued Australian and German Shepherd mix. You can imagine how elated I was to have the opportunity to share some clicker training tips and work with the delightful and smart little pup.
Following our morning presentation, Christy and I went to visit the flagship Mast General Store and the Mast General Annex. I want to share a brief history of this amazing location – which has been kept timeless in appearance and service since 1883. The first rooms of the Mast General Store were built and opened as The Taylor General Store by Henry Taylor in 1883. Henry had run a smaller store across the road for many years and had the need to expand his offerings. It wasn’t long before he had to expand his new store. You can see where he built on to what is now called “The Middle Room” by observing the floor during your next visit.
In 1897, he sold half interest in the store to W. W. (William Wellington) Mast, a member of another pioneer family. The store was known as the Taylor and Mast General Store up until 1913, when the remaining half of the enterprise was purchased by W. W. From then on, the sign over the door has always had Mast in the name. For the next 60 years, the store was owned and operated by the Mast Family. During that time, W. W. and his family tried to carry everything their neighbors needed…from plow points to cloth and cradles to caskets, which led to the popular saying, “If you can’t buy it here, you don’t need it.”
Fast forward to 1976, John and Faye Cooper, a young couple from Florida but with ties to the mountains found out that the old store was for sale. They had walked across its creaking floorboards and were fascinated by the old posters on the walls, the oil cans and farm implements on the high walls, and itsthe genuine personality, that’swhich is the store AND the people. Since that time, the store has remained in the family and has grown to include some of the warmest and most kinde–st hearted people I have met. Their philanthropic commitments in the community, and the positive atmosphere they foster in their, now 9, stores , are in alignment with our own beliefs and values here at Dog is Good.
We are grateful for the relationship we have developed with this store, founded in tradition and good ‘ol’ American core values. We areand equally excited that they share the same enthusiasm and joy overfor their dogs as we do here at DIG. If you get a chance to visit North Carolina, don’t leave without a visit to this quaint town and historic landmark known as the flagship Mast General Store.
To read more on the Mast General Stores, you can go to: www.mastgeneralstore.com