Crockett businessman seeks support of CEIDC to expand, add jobs to economy
Houston County Courier
By Lynda Jones
Ryan Mason is a man with a dream that he believes will benefit the City of Crockett, the City of Grapeland and beyond, but he needs the help of the community and the Crockett Economic and Industrial Development Corp. to make it happen. On June 14, he and his wife, Shannon, opened Hidden Treasures in downtown Crockett. Their retail business is a boutique that features new and gently used clothing, from wedding gowns and prom dresses to everyday wear to clothing for children and babies. They also carry a variety of non-clothing items. Mason said business is good, with customers of all income levels and all ethnicities. Customers also come from the Dallas and Houston areas who express surprise at the low prices they find at the store. He said Labor Day was an especially busy day, with people stopping to shop instead of just driving on through town to another destination. Mason explained his commitment to keeping prices reasonable and carrying items of interest to all demographic groups instead of catering to one particular type of customer. He and Shannon want to expand, and he recently submitted a three-year plan to CEIDC Executive Director Thom Lambert for consideration by the CEIDC Board of Directors. The Masons would like to open a warehouse and office in the space previously occupied by another retailer in a strip center on East Loop 304. They would use the warehouse space for new clothing and keep their current site strictly for resale items. Additionally, they want to have stores in Grapeland, Trinity, Alto, Rusk, Jacksonville, Athens, Palestine, Buffalo, Fairfield, Lufkin and Nacogdoches. Mason said they already have potential sites in most of the towns identified. Mason said opening the warehouse immediately would create about 15-20 jobs here. The total company would have about 49 jobs, he said, with everything based in Crockett. "It's a very low expense business and has the opportunity to bring in jobs," Mason said. "It's something we plan to do for a long, long time." "We want to bring jobs to this town," Mason said. "I want to stay here and bring jobs here." Mason grew up in Crockett and his grandfather, a former Vulcraft employee, lived in Grapeland. The Masons currently live in Alto with their three children. Mason describes himself as "very business oriented", explaining that he has 12 years experience in the retail business and currently is the assistant store director for a local grocer. He noted that other Crockett business owners have been very friendly and helpful since his own business opened its doors. The Crockett Area Chamber of Commerce also has been very helpful, Mason said. "A community like that is a community that will grow," Mason said, adding, "I've seen it happen in Rusk. . . . That's how a community will grow, when people get together." Mason said he did a lot of research while developing his business plan, including study of what economic development corporations can do for businesses. In the meantime, Mason is waiting for a response from the CEIDC. He is hopeful that the response will be a positive one.