Greg and Kristie Church stand in front of  one of the many pieces of cabinetry handcrafted by Greg for their 4th Avenue Mason Jar Trading Post. The couple works together to create each piece – Greg builds and distresses, while Kristie paints and stains.  C. D. Moore photo
Greg and Kristie Church stand in front of one of the many pieces of cabinetry handcrafted by Greg for their 4th Avenue Mason Jar Trading Post. The couple works together to create each piece – Greg builds and distresses, while Kristie paints and stains. C. D. Moore photos

Cailey Moore
Staff Writer

Lanterns of every shape and size, mason jar lamps and strings of lights cast a soft glow throughout the 4th Avenue Mason Jar Trading Post on Fourth Avenue in Marlinton. The wood-lined walls, accented by riveted tin ceilings, offer local and visiting customers alike a glimpse into the past. Reminiscent of a Western trading post, the shop is the perfect stop for antique and primitive finds.

Stemming from a love of antique mason jars, the area, and primitive and rustic décor, Greg and Kristie Church, of Asheboro, North Carolina, first brought the Mason Jar to Marlinton almost three years ago in July 2013.

“We’ve spent the last twenty-five years in North Carolina,” Kristie said, “but we’re originally from McDowell County and have always been fond of this area. It just seemed natural for us to bring something here.”

For those who aren’t familiar with primitive art, the rough, simplistic style – paired with a muted color scheme – is considered to be a characteristic of an early Americana time period. Modern-day primitive artists strive to replicate this historic style by using new materials that are then treated – by painting, staining and distressing – to embody antiquity and create an aged look.

Since its 2013 opening, locals and tourists alike have flocked to the Mason Jar for “unique finds of all kinds.” The store offers its customers an assortment of goods ranging from antiques and traditional primitive décor to products handcrafted by locally- and North Carolina-based artisans.

Traditional primitive décor is often marked by barn stars, hand-painted wooden signs and saltbox houses, as well as pip berry garlands, wreaths and willow trees – all of which are available for purchase.

Crocks, jars and jugs – including a number of mason jar-themed household items, such as lamps and salt shakers – are another staple in primitive and rustic decorating, and the store’s cabinets, shelves and walls are lined with crocks, jars and jugs of all shapes and sizes.

 traditional primitive art is characterized by rough, simplistic styles, muted color schemes and reoccurring “characters” – such as barn stars, saltbox houses and pip berry willow trees.
Traditional primitive art is characterized by rough, simplistic styles, muted color schemes and reoccurring “characters” – such as barn stars, saltbox houses and pip berry willow trees.

In addition to the traditional décor, artwork from local mother-daughter duo Erin and Audrey Lore is featured in the Mason Jar, as well as cookbooks from local Gary Hollandsworth and the Pocahontas Scottish Rite Club.

A shelf of West Virginia honey, jams and jellies – including jars of West Virginia RoadKill jam/jelly – stands across from the front desk, in addition to baskets of homemade fudge and bottles of fruit-flavored ciders.

During the holiday seasons, North Carolina-based artist and family friend Jessie Mitchell provides the Mason Jar with seasonal, hand-sewn bowl fillers – such as snowmen, valentine hearts and easter eggs –and handmade ornaments.

In addition to Mitchell’s hand-sewn goods, Greg and Kristie’s daughter, Arista, transforms antique sleds, unwanted slabs of wood and canvas squares into cheerful holiday décor – featuring seasonal greetings, Santa Claus and snowmen wrapped in burlap scarfs.

Handcrafted pieces of furniture – cabinets, noodle boards, shelves, and table risers – are just a few of the larger sale items that Greg and Kristie design and build for the Mason Jar.

“Everything I make is built with Pocahontas County lumber,” Greg said of his work. “I get my lumber from Jason Alderman, take it to my wood shop in North Carolina, and then we bring it back here once the pieces are completed.”

The 4th AVENUE Mason Jar Trading Post offers its customers an assortment of antique and traditional primitive home décor. The owners bring new items to the store every two weeks.
The 4th Avenue Mason Jar Trading Post offers its customers an assortment of antique and traditional primitive home décor. The owners bring new items to the store every two weeks.

Greg’s most recent venture – handmade potato bins – took an average of three days to complete each piece.

“There’s a lot of building and drying that goes into the furniture,” he explained. “so I try to work on multiple pieces at a time – a few hours here, a few hours there. While one is drying, I can be working on another.”

Once finished with each piece of furniture, Greg hands the reins over to Kristie to begin painting. Each piece must receive multiple coats of paint, a sanding and a staining before the signature primitive distress is achieved.

“We paint it, then we take it off,” Kristie joked of the process.

When they’re not designing and building furniture in Asheboro or manning the front counter at the Mason Jar, Greg and Kristie can be found traveling to five different states – North Carolina, South Carolina, Tennessee, Virginia and West Virginia – on a never-ending hunt for antiques and other items to feature in their store.

The Mason Jar is located at 719 Fourth Avenue in Marlinton. The store is open Wednesday through Saturday from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m., and can be reached at 304-799-2520. For updates and photos of their latest products, follow the “4th Ave. Mason Jar Trading Post” on Facebook.