Mast General Store, Valle Crucis North Carolina, an old-timey checkers game (Scarborough photo)After thinking about travel down a canopy road in Florida (featuring Bradley’s Country Store) I now have small-town general stores on the brain.

In pretty Valle Crucis — near North Carolina’s Blue Ridge Parkway — stands the Mast General Store, ready to sell boots and buttons since 1883.

A smaller, more Southern version of New England retail stalwart LL Bean, it advertises “cradles to caskets” because “if you can’t buy it here, you don’t need it.”

Local T-shirt humor for watersports enthusiasts, Mast General Store, North Carolina (Scarborough photo)

The original Valle Crucis store is on the National Register of Historic Places, and it’s well worth a stop to poke around in the old-fashioned mercantile section (cast-iron cookware, stone ground meal, bag balm salves, kids’ slingshots) or the traditional clothing (flannels and boxers, straw hats, rubber waders or bright red union suits complete with button flaps.)

Mast General Store is now a small chain of shops in North Carolina, with one each in Greenville SC and Knoxville TN, but the original one features the circa 1909 Annex just down the road.

Mast General Store, Valle Crucis NC (Scarborough photo)

The building used to house a competing store, but now it’s a sports and casual clothing outfitter.

The key thing about the Annex is that it has the Mast Store Candy Barrel, full of pecan divinity, horehound rootbeer barrels, Maple Nut Goodies, Bit-O-Honey and all the other candy favorites.

Yum.

The photo at the top of the post is the checkers table, ready to go with the requisite bottlecap checkers.

Linger awhile and play, maybe with an ice-cold RC Cola and Moon Pie in hand.

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I'm a writer and speaker specializing in tourism, travel and social media. NHRA drag racing fan. Co-founder of Tourism Currents. U.S. Navy veteran. Caffeinated.