Best Store We Wish Was From Knoxville: Mast General Store

Surely, you think, this Knoxville institution must have occupied its Gay Street address since the turn of the century. (The previous one.) Mast General Store is as Knoxvillian as the Dogwood Arts Festival, or Market Square, or the Sunsphere. It's a retail icon that generations of Knoxville natives grew up with, where they got their first pair of hiking boots while yearning for its bags of penny candy. Except that it's not, and we didn't. Mast is actually a regional chain of nine stores, originating in Valle Crucis, N.C. (where it really is a turn-of-the-century icon), and our outpost opened here in 2006. Nevertheless, it deserves special Best of Knoxville recognition as a store so thoroughly adopted by our community that we just assume it's Made in Knoxville. How did we manage to live without it for all these years?