Over three years after local pharmacy company Byrd-Watson reorganized stores in Mount Vernon, the company is planning a new business venture in 2018: women’s accessories.

Byrd-Watson Drug Company was founded in Mount Vernon, IL, in 1975 by local business expert Ed Breeze. Ed came to Mount Vernon from Centralia to open his first store after working with his brother at their historic pharmacy there. He opened his doors on 9th Street with a small staff and plans to run operate a local, friendly, and affordable drug store. Within just a few years, Byrd-Watson Drug Company had become an important cornerstone business in the community, helping to support several educational and religious institutions, local government, and civic organizations.
As the company grew, more locations were opened. A mid-town store was opened in the Times Square Mall to better serve the west side of the city and busy intersection of Interstates 57 and 64. Later, a stand-alone location was opened on Broadway Street in a central location near Crossroads Hospital. In the early twenty-first century, Ed and his wife Brenda built a large, main location to serve as their central pharmacy and headquarters on 12th Street and Main Street, just steps from Saint Mary’s Good Samaritan Hospital.

At this point, the drug stores included a pharmacy, medical equipment division, retail area for snacks, and gift options. When the Main Street location opened, the Breeze’s brought their son Adam onto their management team as Ed continued his work as a pharmacist and Brenda turned to her interests in a gifts and home goods store, Dish on the Square, which was housed in the original 9th Street location on top of Byrd-Watson Drug’s underground storage and warehouse facility.

On Ed’s passing in 2010, Adam and wife Melynda turned attention to continue the growing company in a troubling economic situation and with ever-growing pressure from Medicare, Medicaid, and insurance organizations. After closing Dish in 2012, the company was restructured in 2014, with pharmacy services centralized at the Broadway location, now called Byrd-Watson Pharmacy. The large Main Street location became a medical showroom and was renamed Byrd-Watson Medical Equipment, housing both durable medical services and a new retail division aimed at serving medical professionals through uniforms, supplies, and accessories.

Now, Byrd-Watson is reorganizing once again to serve the community. Byrd-Watson Medical Equipment has refocused services based on the needs of customers and now operates as Byrd-Watson Downtown, a unique location providing specialized DME services with trained medical staff on payroll, scrubs and supplies for medical professionals, and special gifts and accessories for the public. In 2018, Byrd-Watson is expanding shoes brands to include footwear for the whole family. Vera Bradley products will be provided to the Southern Illinois community exclusively through the Downtown location. Accessories like purses and blankets have been added to the inventory for customer enjoyment.

Over the years, Byrd-Watson has grown, changed, and morphed to better serve customers. “We are so excited to continue growing and serving our community through our new endeavors at the Downtown location,” shared a Byrd-Watson spokesperson. “Our hope is through our new offering, people will continue to be happy and healthy in Southern Illinois.”

Article by Jase Lucas / Sales & Marketing Coordinator at Byrd-Watson