The Roanoker - September/October 2020 - 35

It took 13 years to put together the Mast General Store deal ("... probably not
atypical," says Moretz) and Soltis was there every step of the way-through three
city managers. Mast General Store is "a destination retailer," says Soltis. "It will bring
more people into the downtown area." But there is considerably more to Roanoke
retail than that. "Present Thyme is great. Towers is especially active and for a mall
of that age (57) to be vibrant is unusual. Town Square has good proximity to the
airport and Sam's is beneficial. Advance Auto did to Crossroads Shopping Mall
what Carilion is doing with Tanglewood. Wasena is up and coming. Williamson
Road is becoming an international center and the Grandin and Williamson Road
areas have business associations, a big benefit."

INTERACTIONS, NOT JUST TRANSACTIONS

ABOVE:
The Mast General Store
in Roanoke celebrates
its location inside the
historic Heironimus
building.

COURTESY OF MAST GENERAL STORE

TheRoanoker.com

Says Moretz, "Retail is an everchanging landscape; that is for certain. As much as
the younger generations are looking toward the future, they are also pulling forward
some of the best of the past. They are looking for experiences, not just things. They
are looking for interactions, not just transactions. At Mast Store, those are things
that we do every day. We want to interact with our customers and guests, to help
them make the best decisions based upon listening and understanding their needs."
Frank Martin, commercial realtor at Hall Associates, follows retail trends closely.
He says, "The changing face of retail has been [led] by Amazon, which has driven
out many of the mom and pops. Destination stores [like Mast General Store] are
thriving because you can find what you can't find online.
"The malls are finding nontraditional uses-Carilion, Advance Auto, for example.
Fitness centers are locating in strip malls. People love a grocery store anchor at the malls,
and I don't think the online grocery buying is a threat to that. Locally-owned retail,
though, is a tough sell. Health care is strong because of easy proximity and parking."
Martin insists that "Mast Store will be wonderful for downtown because it is
a destination. ... Office space downtown has energy it hasn't had in a long time.
There seems to be a changing mindset."

SEPTEMBER/OCTOBER 2020

35


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The Roanoker - September/October 2020

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