Looking back at business at Byrd’s Drugs

Published 4:26 pm Tuesday, May 16, 2023

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In 1981 The Troy Messenger published “business at Byrd Drugs” which gave some history of the oldest drug store in Troy.

Dianne Smith

Dianne Smith

An elderly man waits for his prescription to be filled.  A girl buys a tube of lipstick at the cosmetic counter.  Three well-dressed men discuss a court case over a large Coke.  Two young boys eagerly order a frosty chocolate shake.

This is a familiar scene in Troy’s oldest drug store, Byrd Drug Co.

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The drug store, situated on the southwest corner of the downtown Square, was originally opened in 1874 by Dr. A. St. Clair Tennille, great-grandfather of singer Toni Tennille.  Eventually, Tennille sold the store and moved near Montgomery.  Walter Walters, once a mayor of Troy, purchased the building, but later had to sell it.  William J. Hollan bought it and made it a sundries store.  Finally, in 1939, Marvin Byrd purchased the store from Hollan and established a reputation as a compassionate and successful druggist.

Although the Great Depression was taking its toll on everyone, Byrd met the needs of those in his community.  “Money was scarce then, but he never turned down anyone,” Mrs. Marvin Byrd said.

Because of his faithful service, Byrd’s business grew.  He opened another drug store in 1945, Byrd-Waters, which is now Synco Drugs.  In 1968, the community was saddened by his death.  “He was so popular and much beloved by everyone,” Mrs. Byrd recalls.

After Byrd’s death, his son-in-law, Joe L. Watson, bought the store.  Watson maintained the store in the way Byrd left it.  Little has changed under Watson’s management.

Many of the same employees who worked by Byrd still work for Watson.  Mrs. Annie Lou Stubbs, who began when Byrd was owner, is still working.  Miss Corliss Reeves has been with Byrd Drug since 1933.  Mrs. Ruby Winfield worked for 30 years as bookkeeper for Byrd and Watson.

“The people have worked for us a long time,” Mrs. Byrd said.  “That’s one thing that makes it like a family store.”

These same employees continue to serve familiar faces.  Most of the same customers still trade with Byrd Drug even after 20 or 30 years.  Though several chain discount drug stores are in Troy, Watson said, “most of our customers stayed, and we’ve had no noticeable changes.”

Also unchanged is the extra special service Byrd is famous for:  its fountain.  Byrd Drug is the only drug store in Troy that retained a fountain.

“We have our Monday morning coffee crowd and local people taking breaks from their businesses nearby.  It  gives us a good variety of customers,” Watson said.

Perhaps even the construction workers who will revitalize downtown Troy will take  their break there.  With the project being planned, Watson said the remodeling will only change the store’s looks, not service.

He said with a smile, “We want to keep the turn-of-the-century look, but we will spruce it up.”

Concerning the inside of the store, Watson said, “We’ve done a little remodeling, but it’s still basically the same.  We try to keep that comfortable atmosphere, a place where people can get together.

Even though the building will be redone, the people of Troy can still get together in the traditional atmosphere they have enjoyed for over 42 years in Byrd Drug Co.

All of these articles can be found in previous editions of The Troy Messenger.  Stay tuned for more.  Dianne Smith is the President of the Pike County Historical, Genealogical and Preservation Society.