Columbia, SC (WLTX) - The new Mast General Store in Columbia has opened, a move city officials hope will help revitalize downtown.
Mayor Steve Benjamin and other officials held a ribbon-cutting ceremony Tuesday morning. The building will be in a renovated building at the corner of Main and Taylor streets.
"The best days of Main Street are still yet to come," said Mayor Steve Benjamin. "So we're excited. We're excited."
"It's quite a challenge on Main St. because of the fact that Main St. for a long period of time was dead," said Ike McCleese, President of the Columbia Chamber of Commerce. "It's coming back to life and this is one more thing that will breath life back into Main St. and Downtown."
Mast General locations evoke the look of a old-time general store, selling barrels of candies, food, clothes, and outdoor gears.
The North Carolina based company has locations across the country, including Greenville, but the Columbia store will be the largest. The new store will be 17,000 square feet with 25 employees, all from the Columbia area.
"Downtown Columbia's been described as a place people go to when they have to," said Matt Kennell, President of the City Center Partnership.
Kennell said the effort to revitalize Columbia's downtown focuses on making it an area that meets the needs of residents while attracting tourists.
"I think it really is the resurgence of Main St. that we've all been waiting for," said Kennell.
Columbia city leaders hope Mast General will help revitalize Main Street and attract even more businesses to the area. Mast General considered Columbia 12 years ago, but didn't think Main Street was ready for the store.
City Council is using a $2 million federal loan to help the store.