After nearly 60 years, Synco Drugs closes

After nearly 60 years in business, Synco Drugs officially closed its doors for good on Feb. 4.

Synco Drugs owner Walt Sanders made the difficult decision to sell the business to Walgreens recently after 24 years as an employee and then owner of Troy’s last locally owned pharmacy.

“It’s been a difficult decision, to say the least, that we’ve been considering for awhile,” Sanders said. “Things haven’t been very easy since COVID and we’ve had a myriad of issues that I think every independent pharmacy – and really any small town, locally-owned business – has faced.

“We were approached by Walgreens with an offer to sell. We prayed about it and talked about it and we looked at a lot of different things and thought that now was the right time for us to proceed with that.”

What would eventually become Synco Drugs started as Byrd-Watters Drug Store in 1946, when Marvin Byrd – founder of Bryd Drugs – bought the old Masonic Temple building in Downtown Troy. The first floor of the building had previously been operated as the Princess Theatre, one of Troy’s first “picture houses.” That first floor would become Byrd-Watters Drugs. Byrd-Watters operated until it was sold in 1958, to the Troy Drug Company. It would eventually become Foster Drugs until Roy Synco bought it in 1964 and Synco Drugs was born. His son, Charles Synco, ran the business for decades before selling it to Sanders, a longtime employee, in 2012.

“I started working here when I was 16, starting as a clerk and stocking shelves and things like that,” Sanders recalled. “Through the years, I moved up and have done it all, from stocking shelves to payroll and everything in between. My wife has been working here for the past 16 years, too.

“It’s been a very family-oriented, patient focused business. I consider our patients more than just patients; these are my friends, they’ve become family and they’ve watched me grow up throughout the years.”

Along with being the last locally owned pharmacy in the city, Synco Drugs was one of the few pharmacies owned by a certified pharmacy technician, as well. When it came to selling, Walgreens stood out to Walt Sanders and his wife, Kristin.

“We did look at different companies to work with but found that Walgreens was a good match for a lot of different reasons,” he emphasized. “They were founded in 1901, so a very similar mom-and-pop type setting to start out. They evolved into a larger corporation but I feel like they kept a lot of those values that align with ours.

“That’s important to us. It’s unfortunate that we had to sell but we are incredibly thankful for the opportunity with Walgreens; not only for the business but four our patients, as well, to have access to an expanded care setting.”

Sanders sent out letters to patients announcing the sale but made sure that anyone with questions or concerns could contact him directly.

“They’ve become family over the years. I mailed out a letter with my personal cellphone number for that very reason,” he said. “I wanted people to be able to call me directly if they had questions and I would have the opportunity to explain it to the people I care about.”

The prescriptions for current Synco Drugs patients have already been transferred to Walgreens and Sanders said those patients would be seeing some familiar faces when they stop by.

“One of our pharmacists, Heather, began working at the Troy location and I’ll be starting there next week,” he said. “So, there will be some familiar faces for our patients. We didn’t just make the decision and then abandon ship. We will be over there working and there will be those familiar faces for our patients.

“It’s important for me that our customers know we’re still involved and we’ll still be there to continue to take care of them. I’m glad that we will have the opportunity to continue to care for our patients because that’s part of what made this a very emotional, difficult decision; making sure the people that I’ve taken care of for the past 24 years are still taken care of and making sure that they know they’re still valued.”

Sanders said it’s important to him that his patients know he still cares for them moving forward.

“I just want people to know that I really do care about them and that’s the reason I’m in this industry,” he said. “I want to make sure people are taken care of, I want to help and I want to improve their quality of life the best that I can. It was really important to us to see that our patients are continued to be taken care of.”

While the Sanders family was sad and emotional to see one chapter close, they are still excited and optimistic about the future.

“It’s hard to wrap 24 years of my history – and 60 years of Synco Drugs history – into words,” Sanders said. “It’s incredibly difficult but I will say that I am very optimistic about the future with Walgreens. We will be on site to help Walgreens and our patients through the transition and continue to do what we love to do and that’s help people. At the end of the day, that’s what we’re here for.”