In the year 1939, our nation was still struggling to recover from the effects of the Great Depression. Only a little more than half of the families in the United States owned an automobile. The few who could afford the luxury of flight were offered the first opportunity to board a transatlantic commercial flight to Europe. For seekers of entertainment, 'Gone with the Wind' first appeared on movie screens and 'The Wizard of Oz' opened on Broadway. The political and military mechanisms in Europe were set in motion to begin what would later become World War II...
Little could dampen the enthusiasm of L. Mason Salter, 30 years old at the time, as he rented a 20' X 50' frame building on Second Street in Natchitoches, Louisiana. He hung a sign on the front - Mason Salter's - because he personally stood behind the product he sold. His early enthusiasm quickly diminished the next few years as the war consumed the nation and all production was converted to the war effort. Serious consideration was given to closing the store because inventory was not available. Changes in product selection and a base of extremely loyal customers carried the small business through these difficult years.
In 1944, as the War ended, Mason's vision and hope for the business took a confident and aggressive turn. He purchased his location and built a 10,000 sq. ft. store building which included a 3,000 sq. ft. basement that served as a warehouse. Business flourished as soldiers returned home from the war and built new homes. Mason's wife, Thyra, joined the family business. The trade area included the parishes of Natchitoches, Winn and Sabine.
The business grew and grew as the years passed. Two warehouses were built totaling 7,000 sq. ft. and the showroom space was doubled to 14,000 sq. ft. In 1975, Mason's second son, Stanley and his wife Marion joined the business. In 1981, following the designation of Natchitoches as a National Historic Landmark District, the exterior of the store was completely remodeled to reflect the revitalization of the downtown area. During a severe economic downturn in the 1980s, Stanley and Mason refocused the business to serve the customer that was more frequently coming from greater distances to find better quality and unique merchandise. The opening of I-49 and the tourism increase following the movie 'Steel Magnolias' contributed significantly to this change. Accordingly, in 1991 the interior of the store was entirely remodeled to create a vignette display to enhance the shopping experience of these customers.
In 1986, Mason passed away leaving Thyra, Stanley and Marion to carry the business forward. Thyra worked until her death in 2002. Today, the business serves customers in a 100-mile radius with a unique blend of personal service and products that distinguish the homes of its customers while also offering significant value. Although the business has changed and adapted with the times since 1939, the original vision of Mason Salter remains unchanged - personal service and a quality product coupled with a relaxed and enjoyable shopping experience has made Mason Salter's the unique furnishings destination it is today.
"I have found that most people who come to our store are seeking answers for home furnishings problems and someone with experience to help them make the right decisions. Every customer and every problem is different. The challenge of planning a room that meets all the needs and dreams of that customer requires significant time and effort. But it is worth it when it all comes together at the end—that's why I enjoy what I do—and I guess that is why I consider most of my customers to be friends."Marion Salter