WINONA – In an article published in the April 1989 issue of Mississippi Pharmacist magazine, Edwin G. “Sonny” Potts predicted that his one-year-old granddaughter, Jenny Claire, would one day be a pharmacist like himself and his daughter, Gay Potts Hammond.
Convinced she would join the “family business,” Potts said, “After all, like mother, like daughter.”
Potts was right. Jenny Claire Hammond Dyre not only graduated from pharmacy school at the University like her mother and grandfather, she recently returned home to Winona to join the pharmacy staff of Hammond’s Pharmacy and Gifts, just as her mother returned to work at Pott’s Howell and Heggie Drug Company in Durant years ago.
After graduating from the University of Mississippi with a degree in Marketing, Hammond went to work for her family’s drug store, but she said eventually, she wanted to do more than just work in the store. She wanted to join her father behind the pharmacy counter, so she returned to pharmacy school.
“I went to pharmacy school knowing I wanted to come back and work with my dad,” Hammond said. “Jenny Claire didn’t have plans to come to work [at Hammond’s Pharmacy and Gifts], until she had a child, but I had always thought she would.”
For Hammond, raising her two children while being a pharmacist was made easier by working with her father at the family business. In Mississippi Pharmacist magazine, Hammond said when her children were sick, she could stay home with them, and her father would be at the store to back her up. Hammond said now that Dyre is a mother of a son, Hammond, working for the family business “is more flexible” than working for a chain pharmacy or in a hospital setting.
For Dyre, growing up at Howell and Heggie helped pave her career path.
“As long as I can remember, I have been in a pharmacy,” Dyre said. “I guess you could say it is in my blood. All through elementary and high school, I always knew I wanted to be a pharmacist, and my dream of achieving that goal never changed. It is extremely special that there are three generations of pharmacists in my family, and I can only hope that tradition will continue with my children one day.”
She said she “loved every minute” of growing up in her grandfather’s store.
“I spent lots of summers in the pharmacy,” Dyre said. “I loved when [my grandfather] would let me count medications, and I also loved working the cash register. He had a gift store as well, just like Mom, so I helped people with gifts, perfume, and makeup out front. When Mom opened up [Hammond’s Pharmacy and Gifts] my senior year in high school, it was like being back in Durant with [her grandfather] Gaga and [grandmother] Doodle.”
Hammond said Dyre, who worked for Walgreens in Madison and for a University of Mississippi Medical Center pharmacy in Jackson prior to coming to Hammond’s, brings with her that experience and “diversified knowledge” of operating in a retail chain environment as well as in an institutional environment.
Dyre said working in the hospital setting, much more than a corporate store, provided invaluable experience.
“I was able to learn about so many different treatments and medications being in the hospital, and I am beyond thankful for that opportunity,” Dyre said.
However, she said working for an independent pharmacy is where she feels she can really assist her patients.
“There is nothing like working in a small, independent pharmacy,” Dyre said. “You have so much more say and control over how to treat and help your patients. You have much more freedom to go above and beyond to make sure that someone has what they need versus corporate saying what you can and cannot do.”
Dyre said she enjoys working with her mother and meeting and serving new patients, and she hopes the experience will help her become a better pharmacist.
“There is so much work that goes into owning and operating your own pharmacy,” Dyre said. “I admire my mom so much for all her hard work. I hope to help her with some of the administrative things that come along with a pharmacy and offer more immunizations and patient services in the future.”
Hammond said having Dyre at the pharmacy frees her up to “do paperwork at home” as well as prepare to build a new pharmacy near the intersection of Jones and Applegate Street in Winona.
“We will be relocating,” Hammond said. “We are building a new store, with everything under the same roof. We are excited about that venture.”
Currently, Hammond’s Pharmacy and Gifts is located in two separate locations to accommodate the store’s growing gift shop. The gift shop is located just down the hill from the original pharmacy location.
“We are hoping to be open by the fall,” Hammond said.
Hammond said Dyre joining the staff also frees her up to spend more time with her father, who is retired and living in Oxford. Wednesday, Hammond, Dyre and grandson, Hammond, spent the day with Potts in honor of his 82nd birthday.
“This is the first year in 60 years that he did not renew his pharmacy license,” Hammond said. “I guess it’s time for another generation to take over.”