With a background in exercise science and having spent most of her career as a coach across the country, Joni Petro never thought she would own a hardware store in Whitefish.
Once all three of Petro’s kids were in school, taking up less of her time, she knew she wanted to go back to work. But she wasn’t quite sure what career path she wanted to take.
So Joni and her husband, Ethan, decided to buy Old Goats Inc. off of craigslist from Bob and Jackie Graham, who started the company in the 1990s. The Petros’ new store sits right next door to the Grahams’ old store in Happy Valley, just south of Whitefish. Joni said the Grahams formed the business name after a running joke of self-proclaiming themselves as old goats.
Now retired, Bob and Jackie saw themselves in Ethan and Joni, and they formed a relationship beyond a company buyout. The Petros moved from Seattle, and the Grahams came from Chicago, with both couples drawn to the Flathead’s outdoor opportunities. Jackie was eager to teach Joni everything she knew.
Besides changing the hardware store’s name from Old Goats Inc. to Old Goats Hard Goods and moving next door, little has changed since Joni took over.
“It was a smooth transition,” Joni said.
Joni says the store didn’t skip a beat during the transition and that the Grahams have been great mentors in the whole process. Joni sells the same custom hardware and cabinetry that Jackie did during her time at the store.
While remodeling homes has always been a hobby for Joni, she now uses it in her work and picks out custom hardware for her clients, much of it American-made. Bellmont Cabinet Co. is her built-to-order frameless cabinet manufacturer, which is based out of Washington and also offers semi-custom designs.
Joni’s most popular hardware comes from Ashley Norton Architectural Hardware out of New Jersey and Sun Valley Bronze out of Idaho.
“The pieces are custom,” Joni said. “They’re touched by 20 hands.”
Joni says the amount of building in the valley has led to a steady flow in business.
“It’s booming,” she said about the area’s growth.
While she works with both high-quality American and foreign products, foreign companies have become more expensive.
“The building industry is getting hit hard by tariffs,” Joni said.
Joni is also trying to balance her work life and family life with an appointment-only approach.
“I’m trying to figure out that work-life balance,” Joni said, “and always live to manage time.”