From eager prospective students after their first tour of Grounds to fourth-years looking for that final perfect memento of their time at the University, Mincers on the Corner is the go-to Wahoo store which sells everything from University-branded Teddy bears to classic t-shirts.
A longtime Cavalier and involved Charlottesville resident, Mark Mincer was a man who bled blue and orange. Mark passed away Jan. 30 at 60 years of age — he is remembered by friends, family and the larger community for his passionate support of University athletics and students.
Mincer’s on the Corner was established in Charlottesville in 1948 as a pipe shop called Mincer’s Humidor by Robert W. Mincer, Mark’s grandfather. To create additional income, Robert Mincer and his wife Clara rented out spare bedrooms to students. In 1954, Robert moved a few hundred yards up the Corner to where Mincers is located now. The store has since been owned by three generations of Mincer sons.
As time passed, Mincer’s redirected its focus and started selling non-smoking commodities. Now called Mincer’s U.Va. Imprinted Sportswear, the store currently sells sports apparel, as well as casual clothing articles, fashion items, toys and household goods.
Mark’s son, Cal Mincer, described his father as a family man who cherished University sports and his position working on the Corner in the middle of the University bustle.
Mark was a man who bled blue and orange.
“Most of his life was family and Virginia sports and retail,” Cal said. “And I think he found a good amount of joy in those things.”
Given Mark’s passion for sports, the store has a strong relationship with University athletics. Growing up, Cal initially didn’t spend much time in the store, but he began to help out with what Mincer’s called the “scoreboard special” — for every point scored by the football team, Mincer’s added a percentage point to its sale. Since then, Mincer’s has continued to faithfully outfit and celebrate alongside Cavalier athletics supporters. Cal remembers the excitement of the 2019 men’s basketball championship as the highlight of working alongside his father as hundreds of fans sought out t-shirts to commemorate the win.
“It wasn't like usual retail where he's in his office doing stuff and we're just kind of pushing the systems forward — it was all hands on deck,” Cal said. “We were basically trying to make as many customers happy as we can and it was just a really fulfilling time to be able to work next to my dad.”
Mark was also deeply invested in the University community and an avid reader of student media outlets. Andrew Joyner, College alumnus and associate director of development at McIntire, remembers an article he wrote during his time on The Cavalier Daily in which he argued that the University should be considered for 1995 ACC football champions over Florida State University in the ACC’s first Bowl Alliance — Mincer’s, Joyner said, should make t-shirts to celebrate. He said that Mark read the article and personally invited him to talk more at the store.
Mark and Joyner remained friends afterwards. Joyner would often text Mark photos of his children wearing clothing from the store, or celebrate friends’ acceptances to the University with Mincer’s gift cards.
“As I often hear from U.Va. graduates, both here in the area and outside, Mincer’s is a store they just love to be at, and I think Mark deserves a lot of credit for that,” Joyner said.
The store remains popular among current students, both as a place to buy fresh prints for game days and as a desirable workplace.
Third-year College student Rana Naimi formerly worked at Mincer's and remembers the store as a relaxed and comfortable working environment. Although Naimi had only worked with Cal and never personally met Mark, she commented on Cal’s generosity and easy-going personality.
“If that’s what his dad was like, then it’s very obvious where all that kindness comes from,” Naimi said in a statement to the Cavalier Daily.
The store announced in a tweet Jan. 29 that they would be closed on the same day to mourn the loss of their owner. Hundreds of people gathered at Paramount Theater Friday for a memorial celebrating Mark’s legacy.
As the University remembers Mark’s impact, the classic Corner store’s legacy will continue — Cal will take on the longstanding family responsibility of managing Mincer’s.
“For those of us who've seen a lot of family stores unfortunately closing here in the Charlottesville area, to see that his family will maintain and keep that means a great deal,” Joyner said.
Cal has worked full time at the store since 2018, and said he learned much from Mark but wishes they had more time together. Inspired by his father’s dedication, Cal plans to stay at the store for the long haul.
“Something will come up and I’ll be like ‘wow, I wish I would have asked Dad that,’” Cal said. “I’m never going to get past those questions and those moments, but I did learn a lot from him and I am proud of our store and proud to be running it… I’m confident we will continue to be there for years to come.”