After twenty-five years in the Westgate shopping center, Mast Shoes employees took four days in August to make their big move: right next door. “It was all hands on deck” to get the new store stocked with Mast’s 10,000-shoe inventory, says Molly Mast-Koss.
Mast-Koss and her father and co-owner, Greg Mast, signed the lease for the former Avenue Plus store in the spring of 2017. The 2,600-square-foot Westgate iteration of the seventy-six-year-old staple had long struggled to fit all of Mast’s customers and all of its shoes.
Now, with 4,500 square feet, Mast-Koss says they’ve been able to bring their entire formerly warehoused inventory on-site and make more walking and sitting room for customers.
The store has a more contemporary feel, with polished concrete floors and a high, open-style ceiling, but the atmosphere is still cozy. Mast-Koss says her husband, Bartek Koss, designed it to look more like some of Mast’s original downtown locations.
Shelves are lined with inventory nearly up to the ceiling, where large globe lights descend toward a long row of chairs; an old sleek sign from Mast’s days on Liberty hangs at the top of a wall. A wall near the door features old newspaper articles about the health-and-comfort-focused retailer, including one from the first store’s opening in 1942. The side of a shelf is hung with old wooden shoe lasts.
“One person yesterday looked around and said, ‘All right, yeah, this is a real shoe store!'” says Mast-Koss. “That was cool.” But she’s most excited about having more room for customers who might have been scared away by the weekend crowds. “I think some of those crazy Saturdays that we had next door… some people would just get to the door and be like ‘I don’t wanna go into that crowd.’ Here we’re having the same amount of people, but it doesn’t feel too congested.”
Though we reported in June of last year that neighbor Barry Bagels had planned to expand into the old Mast location, the future of that spot is once more up in the air. Mast-Koss says property manager JDP Management is still in talks with “a number of interested parties.”
Mast Shoes, 2519 Jackson (Westgate). (734) 662-8118. Mon.-Wed. 10 a.m.-6 p.m., Thurs.-Fri. 10 a.m.-7 p.m., Sat. 10 a.m.-6 p.m. Closed Sun. mastshoes.com