Hidden In Plain Sight: Ann Arbor Family Shoe Business Covering Feet With Care & Comfort For 75 Years

Oct 9, 2017

Second-generation owner Greg Mast with his daughter, third-generation owner Molly Mast Koss
Credit Lisa Barry

On this edition of 89.1 WEMU’S "Hidden In Plain Sight," our own Lisa Barry takes you to a west side Ann Arbor shoe store that first opened downtown in 1942.  Mast Shoes has been providing a lot of sole/soul and sense of community for decades and is, ultimately, about more than just shoes.  

The store is under construction and is expanding into the space next door.
Credit Lisa Barry

Mast Shoes' store manager William Pemberton. He's been at Mast Shoes for 31 years.
Credit Lisa Barry

Mast Shoes is located in the Westgate Shopping Center in Ann Arbor and bills itself as a 3rd generation family operated shoe store specializing in comfortable shoes and personal fittings. The store is currently run by Greg Mast and his daughter Molly Mast-Koss.  It was opened by Greg’s father and mother Walter and Helen Mast on Main Street in downtown Ann Arbor in 1942.

Molly Mast-Koss holding an old-school foot measuring device.
Credit Lisa Barry

William Pemberton is the store manager and has worked there for 31 years.  He has worked for all three generations of the Mast family.  Pemberton, like many of the people who work at Mast Shoes, is a musician who sometimes uses the shoe store as practice space after hours.  He says it is a “fantastic family company to work for” and feels they provide more than just shoes, including a genuine desire to help customers with their shoe concerns.

Fun, sturdy slippers sold at Mast Shoes.
Credit Lisa Barry

Both Molly and Greg Mast have fond memories of growing up in the family shoe store where they spent a lot of time when they weren’t in school.  Greg remembers sleeping on shoe boxes in the back of the car as his father made deliveries at two other locations he used to own around Michigan.

A basket of footies customers use to try on shoes.
Credit Lisa Barry

Mast Shoes is currently expanding to a bigger space next door to their current location on Jackson Avenue.

Pictures in the store's front window show some of the highlights from the business's 75 year history.
Credit Lisa Barry

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— Lisa Barry is the host of All Things Considered on WEMU. You can contact Lisa at 734.487.3363, on Twitter @LisaWEMU, or email her at lbarryma@emich.edu