Johnson Hardware & Furniture Changing Ownership

After more than a century a new family will own and operate downtown store.

On Feb. 1, 2022 Johnson Hardware and Furniture will be under new ownership. Kyle and Emily Medearis, Baker, MT will be the new owners of Sidney’s oldest retail store.

“We’re excited!” Kyle Medearis said. “This is a business that has been a part of Sidney for almost as long as there has been a Sidney, MT.

Sidney was incorporated as a “town” in 1911 and named the county seat of newly formed Richland County in 1914. The business was founded in 1915 by George, Gil and Axel Johnson, along with partner Andy Mercer, and has been owned by one or more members of the Johnson family ever since.

The new owners don’t plan any big changes out of the gate. In fact, they plan to keep things pretty much the same. The entire staff will be retained and the name will not change.

“We’re not reinventing the wheel here. Johnsons has been a staple of Sidney and Richland County for more than 100 years,” Medearis said.

The business will continue as a Do It Best Hardware supplier and will also retain membership in Furniture Leaders, an 88-store Furniture Buying Group based out of Belgrade, MT.

It was Johnson’s affiliation with Do It Best that led to the Medearis decision to take over as owners in Sidney. The Medearis’ own an Ace Hardware store in Baker and were approached by officials with Do It Best Hardware about possibly joining the Do It Best family. The Medearis’ were interested and it was suggested they travel over to Sidney to see Johnson Hardware and Furniture.

“We fell in love with the place. We loved the staff. We loved the wide variety of product options. It’s a great business,” Emily said.

And the timing was right. The current owners–Philip C. Johnson, Blaine “Chip” Gifford and Kristine Gifford – have been running the 107-year-old family business for more than 25 years after taking over the reins from Paul and Hubert Johnson, who took over after the death of their father, Carl, in the last 1950s.

“We came to the conclusion about four years ago that there simply wasn’t a member of the family’s next generation interested in taking over the family business.” Chip said. “We realized then it was either find a buyer or close up shop some day. Closing up shop just isn’t a viable option for this community. The absence of our store in downtown Sidney would be a severe blow to the local business community, along with the loss of nearly 20 jobs. It just wasn’t something we felt good about at all.”

Through the course of the last several years the Johnsons have been in search of a buyer, with no luck.

“As the months rolled by we became very concerned that a buyer might not be found,” said Phil Johnson. “My sister (Kristine) and Chip are in their mid-60s and were looking to retire. Running a “Going Out of Business Sale” wasn’t something we were even remotely interested in but it was starting to look like that may be the outcome in the next few years or so. When the Medearis’ expressed interest in purchasing our store we were very excited because when we first met them we were very impressed with their business acumen, and their energy and excitement. Kyle and Emily are exactly what this business needs to carry it forward. They’re young. They’re smart. And they love this store.”

On Saturday, Jan. 29 from noon-4 p.m. there will be an Open House Farewell & Welcome to meet the Medearis’ and say farewell to the Johnsons and Giffords.


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