With a new space (at last!) the owners of MAST are back and ready to ride the wave of an up-and-coming westside location. By Gillian Drummond
It’s been a long summer, not just for MAST regulars, but for the owners of the store. After three years in Tucson’s Lost Barrio shopping district, on Park Avenue at Broadway, the three owners opted to move to new digs at Mercado San Agustin.
Tasha Bundy, Sofie Albertsen Gelb and Mellow Dawn Lund spent the summer working out of their homes as their new space was transformed (it was bare bones before, with a concrete floor, bare walls and untouched ceiling). And while it wasn’t ideal to be lacking a brick-and-mortar store, they welcomed the fact they had cooling; their last shop, vast as it was, had no air conditioning, which made the summer months difficult.
The West Congress location, just past Interstate 10, is slowly but surely becoming a go-to venue. It has hosted farmers’ markets and charitable events, and in December will hold a Holiday bazaar. There are two bakeries, soon to be joined by Tana Fryer’s flagship cheese and wine shop, Blu. And Lodge on the Desert’s Ryan Clark will become an executive chef and partner of the new Agustin Kitchen, to open next month. Looking out of the corner space of MAST, you can see where Tucson’s new streetcar will end.
“I really feel this part of the city’s going to pick up,” says Gary Patch, who with his partner Darrren Clark was responsible for remodeling MAST’s interior (architects and contractors were Repp McLain).
They say three’s a crowd, and when it comes to business, even two partners can be tricky. So to have three entrepreneurs making a retail operation work, and staying friends at the same time, is no small feat.
“I think it’s shocking. I think it’s amazing,” says Mellow, only half joking. What are their strengths and their weaknesses? They evade the question. “Let’s move on,” says Mellow breezily. But the joking and butt pinching that ensues, the gentle jibes and the easy chemistry, demonstrates that, whatever ther personalities and personality clashes, this threesome works.
They describe their wares as “genuine radical”. They range from jewelry to home goods, and what they sell and how they are displayed are a mix of old and new – but always different. The women’s focus remains the same: “to keep things local, well-made, and if not locally then at least U.S.-made”, says Sofie.
Sofie makes jewelry and lighting; Mellow makes leather purses, bags and clutches; Tasha makes jewelry (her latest fascination is with using tiny brightly-colored vinyl discs sliced from records, and sourced at Tucson’s Gem, Mineral & Fossil Showcase from a dealer in Africa.)
Other brands they carry include: Richer Poorer Inc (socks); Imogene + Willie (jeans): Hollow Ground (straight men’s razors from the 1920s and ’30s); and La Curie, a perfume range from Tucsonan Lesli Wood. Their wares are meticulously displayed in antique cabinets, on thrifted tables, beside Sofie’s own birdcages, alongside a Venetian-style mirror by Patch & Clark Design.
The background was deliberately kept clean so that their products stand out, says Gary Patch of this space that combines several different styles in one. It remains true to the rest of the Mercado San Agustin with traditional European touches, such as a glass-doored vestibule, but also brings in femininity (a widely curved soffit painted grey), modern Scandinavian (a whitewashed hickory floor), and a cheeky nod to its name (a circular porthole window).
And what of the name? MAST is an acronym of all their names (plus a fourth partner, now departed), and seemed fitting for a new business setting sail. They decided to keep it.
* MAST is at Mercado San Agustin, 100 South Avenida Del Convento, Tuesday through Saturday 11am to 6pm. Check their website at www.ilovemast.com for Holiday hours.
* The 6th annual Mercado San Agustin Holiday Bazaar takes place December 20th, 21st and 22nd.