Mast General Store, Valle Crucis, N.C.

Found the Mast General Store site in my Internet surfing and it’s worth a look. Check out their history (click here) and watch a video on the them that tells how they were then and how they are today click here. 
Their history includes a discussion of the store having had a “chicken hatch” in its floor:

“If you wander back in the store, you can see the chicken hatch door in the floor. “In the floor?” you may ask. “That seems like an awfully funny place to put a chicken coop.” As the story goes, a couple of young boys took a chicken to the Farthing Store, a competing general store just two tenths of a mile down the road, and traded with them for merchandise. Their chicken was duly weighed and put out back in the chicken coop. When the storekeeper wasn’t watching, they took their just-bartered chicken back and brought it to the Mast Store to trade it again. Therefore, the hatch at the Mast Store was put beneath the floor and secured from the outside to prevent those individuals who wanted to get more than they bargained for.”

  Buzzy’s Country Store also has an area where the floor boards were once cut out but I always assumed that it was previously a vent of some sort.  As for its use, I wonder if instead of chickens, the hiding place was really used to hide the moonshine!  May have to bounce that theory off the Mast General  Store folks. 

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