Talks and tales at Goober Peas


Open at 7 a.m., the store offers coffee to start the day as well as many local goods produced by farms in the area.

Jesse Barber, Photojournalist

Jane Trivette was 19 and had $300. This is how she started to open Highway 194 Grocery store. A story that started 50 years ago with her husband, Allen Trivette.

Jane Trivette tells this story sitting in the front corner of the now named Goober Peas Country store located at the intersection of Highway 194 and Howards Creek road toward Meat Camp. Jane Trivette and her husband bought the corner plot, which was a sawmill at the time, to start their dream of owning a grocery store. Allen Trivette’s father managed the local Winn-Dixie, and Jane worked in a grocery store during high school.

Andy Pennestri stands for a portrait in front of Goober Peas Country Store. Pennestri is a D.C. native that moved to the area with his mother after high school 40 years ago. Now he manages Goober Peas with Jane Trivette.

Soon after opening the store in 1968, Allen Trivette added onto the building, turning the addition into Allen Trivette’s 194 Tire, which he operated for the next 48 years. 

The front of the store is adorned with signs and posters advertising drinks, local jams and gifts. Two tubes for river floating hang on either side of the building. A display of fishing rods and tackle sit in front of the opened screened door leading into the store. Attached to the side of the store is a business selling reconditioned appliances with a graveyard of refrigerators sitting in front of the garage bay doors.

Jane Trivette and her husband sold their store in 2016 to John Stacy, who is a co-owner of Boone Drug, with the agreement that Allen and Jane Trivette would work as managers of the store. The couple stayed busy with the store, running a farm, raising their kids and putting them through college. 

“There’s not much left,” Jane Trivette said, after putting their kids through college but she feels proud of the life they built together. 

Two years after they sold the store, Allen Trivette died unexpectedly in a car accident on NC 194 Aug. 1, 2018 after being reported missing a day before.

“It’s been hard,” Jane Trivette said. 

Trivette’s family encouraged her to stay involved with the store, maintaining connections outside of her farm duties. Now, Trivette wakes up before the sun at 4 a.m. every morning to finish her farm chores before working at Goober Peas until the store closes at 7 p.m. 

She manages the store with Andy Pennestri, a D.C. native who moved down to North Carolina with his mother when he graduated high school 40 years ago. Pennestri wears a gold cross necklace around his neck and a matching hat and shirt combo to work. 

Every morning, regulars gather in the front corner of the store to catch up over coffee. Andy Pennestri sits with Will Osier and Joe Hayes.

“I have my son and my two children,” he said, pointing to his dachshund shirt and hat in reference to his dachshunds, Tadpole and Tiny. Two of the original set of his five dachshunds. 

Pennestri and Trivette work as a team, stocking shelves, running the register or arguing over the price of pumpkins.  

A customer comes in and asks for Squirrel Nut Zippers, a vanilla nut caramel candy produced in 1926. Another customer comes in looking for glass marbles; he’s a collector who heard these collectible items were manufactured near Boone. It’s uncommon items like these that people come to the store for. Others stop in for ice cold drinks or a hot cup of coffee in the morning as a respite from the day. 

Other than a watercolor picture of the store and an antique sign hanging above the door advertising farm equipment, everything in the store is for sale. Pictures and signs line the walls up to the ceiling with little white tags displaying prices.

The front of the store carries typical convenience items, various sodas, motor oil, inflatable tubes and candies, including tequila lollipops with crickets in them. The back of the store has shelves lined with products like jellies and apple butter, frozen barbeque from Sims Country BBQ in Granite Falls and eggs from local farmers. 

White tags hang off the items adorning the walls as everything is for sale except for a watercolor painting of the store front and an antique sign advertising farm products that hangs above the door.

Pennestri creates a display with local fall items. He opens his laptop to draft up a quick sign for their new fall products of honey, sorghum and apple butter. A customer comes in, interrupting his design work, and he happily jumps to the register. They’re visitors from Cary looking to buy local products. Pennestri gives his high praise for a jar of apple butter, his favorite, and hands the visitors a jar for free.

As Jane Trivette comes in for her evening shift, she makes her way to the front corner of the store and grabs the TV remote. “M.A.S.H” had been playing while Pennestri worked. Trivette changes it to “Wheel of Fortune.” 

“She’s gotta see her story at 12:30. Her soap operas,” Pennestri said.