Zahra Rayani-Kanji of Heart Pharmacy, Sidney Pharmacy manager James McCullough, and Naz Rayani, owner and founder of Heart Pharmacy, join sisters Becky Brigham and Judy Costanzo outside the business. Sidney Pharmacy has become the sixth Heart Pharmacy outlet in Greater Victoria after its purchase from Brigham and Costanzo. Their parents, Frances and Jim Brigham, first opened the business in 1959. (Wolf Depner/News Staff)

Zahra Rayani-Kanji of Heart Pharmacy, Sidney Pharmacy manager James McCullough, and Naz Rayani, owner and founder of Heart Pharmacy, join sisters Becky Brigham and Judy Costanzo outside the business. Sidney Pharmacy has become the sixth Heart Pharmacy outlet in Greater Victoria after its purchase from Brigham and Costanzo. Their parents, Frances and Jim Brigham, first opened the business in 1959. (Wolf Depner/News Staff)

Sidney Pharmacy changes ownership, but retains family tradition

First opened by Frances and Jim Brigham in 1959, Sidney Pharmacy is now part of Heart Pharmacy

From one multi-generational family of pharmacists to another – that is the path of Sidney Pharmacy.

The founding Brigham family handed over the business to the Rayani family, whose patriarch Naz Rayani founded the chain of Heart Pharmacy stores in the early 1990s.

“We are honoured to be taking the baton from them and take it into the future,” said Zahra Rayani-Kanji, Naz’s daughter and a pharmacist herself.

Her interview with the Peninsula News Review also included her father as well as Becky Brigham and Judy Costanzo, sisters who inherited Sidney Pharmacy from their parents, Frances and Jim Brigham, who opened the business in 1959 after having met in pharmacy school.

The change in ownership has inspired mixed feelings for the sisters. It gives Becky, 67, and Judy, 63, a chance to retire and eventually, hopefully, to fulfill their pre-COVID-19 plans of travelling.

On the other hand, it marks the end of a major life phase. “For both of us, it has been our life for 50 years,” said Becky. “We will miss the customers a lot,” added Judy.

Both started working in the pharmacy as teenagers with Becky eventually becoming a pharmacist like her mother and father who died in 1986, shortly after she gained admission to pharmacy school. The sisters became sole owners after their mother’s death in 2018.

For Zahra, this story has a familiar ring.

RELATED: B.C. pharmacists deliver a million influenza vaccinations

Zahra and her brother Rasool (a social entrepreneur who also serves as president of Heart Pharmacy) grew up in the business. Like Becky, Zahra entered the profession after having pursued other career goals. “I was just graduating from pharmacy school, when he (Naz) had to retire because of a significant illness,” she said. “So we both had to step into the family business. We did it mindfully though. We had already made the decision to come in.”

These comparable narratives, even if they happened at different times, made it easy to establish a rapport, said Zahra.

“We can just empathize and relate a lot to the experience of growing up in a pharmacy,” said Zahra.

The two families could also relate to each other in other ways. Naz Rayani had owned Pharmsave Sidney in the mid-1980s before selling that store along with another store in Colwood that opened in 1978. In other words, the two families accounted for two of the three pharmacies serving Sidney at the time. “So we all shared,” said Judy. “We all got along so well. Everybody had their own little niche.”

Not surprisingly, it did not take long for the Rayani family through Zahra’s husband Farhan to reach out to Becky and Judy when word of their desire to retire made the rounds. Hours later, another interested party also approached them. Then COVID-19 hit, upending plans. But the connection remained. “I always left Farhan’s name and number up on my wall,” said Becky. “So I saw it every day.”

In the end, it was this familiar connection as well as the pharmacy’s connection to the community that made the difference for both parties.

“You are so committed to your customers,” Zahra told the sisters during the interview with the Peninsula News Review. “That is so easy to see and that is our ethos as well.” Until recently, the sisters helped the new owners with the transition .

“One day, when we are allowed, we are going to have a party,” said Judy. “We are kind of bowing out very quietly.”

RELATED: Overcoming adversity one step at a time

But that does not take the pharmacy’s place in the community and the new owners have committed to retaining its name.

Naz Rayani knows the feeling of saying goodbye. Born into the Southeast Asian diaspora of Kenya, Rayani studied pharmacy in Scotland before opening his first pharmacy in Nairobi, only to find himself in Canada, where he was involved in a number of pharmacies before starting what is now Heart Pharmacy with its six locations.

“I feel for the Brigham family,” he said. “They will miss their customers. I sold my pharmacy many years ago and I feel the same way. I had to say goodbye to all my customers three or four times in my life, so I can feel your loss.”


Do you have a story tip? Email: vnc.editorial@blackpress.ca.

Follow us on Twitter and Instagram, and like us on Facebook.

wolfgang.depner@peninsulanewsreview.com

Sidney

Get local stories you won't find anywhere else right to your inbox.
Sign up here

Just Posted

Rachna Singh, MLA for Surrey-Green Timbers, is the Parliamentary Secretary for Anti-Racism Initiatives. (Photo courtesy of flickr.com/photos/bcgovphotos)
A micro brewery is being eyed for Jordan River. However, the site where the brewery is proposed still needs to go through the rezoning process. (Black Press Media file)
Micro brewery proposed for Jordan River

Jordan River Brewing Company envisions to build wholesale, sit-in brewery along Highway 14

Traffic waits at the intersection of Highway 17 and Beacon Avenue. A study found failing levels of service at the intersection of Highway 17 and Sidney’s Beacon Avenue for multiple movements during morning peak traffic and for all left-moving traffic during afternoon peak traffic. (Wolf Depner/News Staff)
Province supports potential interim improvements to Sidney intersection

Province says interchange is the long-term plan for intersection of Beacon Avenue and Highway 17

Oak Bay local Lachlan Kratz (red, middle) has signed with pro rugby team NOLO Gold in Louisiana. (Contributed photo)
Oak Bay local signs with pro rugby team

Lachlan Kratz at 21 is now NOLO Gold’s youngest member

Vancouver resident Beryl Pye was witness to a “concerning,” spontaneous dance party that spread throughout social groups at Kitsilano Beach on April 16. (Screen grab/Beryl Pye)
VIDEO: Dance party erupts at Vancouver’s Kitsilano Beach to the dismay of onlookers

‘It was a complete disregard for current COVID-19 public health orders,’ says Vancouver resident Beryl Pye

Lord Tweedsmuir’s Tremmel States-Jones jumps a player and the goal line to score a touchdown against the Kelowna Owls in 2019. The face of high school football, along with a majority of other high school sports, could significantly change if a new governance proposal is passed at the B.C. School Sports AGM May 1. (Malin Jordan)
Power struggle: New governance model proposed for B.C. high school sports

Most commissions are against the new model, but B.C. School Sports (BCSS) and its board is in favour

Russ Ball (left) and some of the team show off the specimen after they were able to remove it Friday. Photo supplied
Courtenay fossil hunter finds ancient turtle on local river

The specimen will now make its home at the Royal BC Museum

Pall Bearers carrying the coffin of the Duke of Edinburgh, followed by the Prince of Wales, left and Princess Anne, right, into St George’s Chapel for his funeral, at Windsor Castle, in Windsor, England, Saturday April 17, 2021. (Danny Lawson/Pool via AP)
Trudeau announces $200K donation to Duke of Edinburgh award as Prince Philip laid to rest

A tribute to the late prince’s ‘remarkable life and his selfless service,’ the Prime Minister said Saturday

B.C. homeowners are being urged to take steps to prepare for the possibility of a flood by moving equipment and other assets to higher ground. (J.R. Rardon)
‘Entire province faces risk’: B.C. citizens urged to prepare for above-average spring flooding

Larger-than-normal melting snowpack poses a threat to the province as warmer weather touches down

Vancouver-based Doubleview Gold Corp. is developing claims in an area north of Telegraph Creek that occupies an important place in Tahltan oral histories, said Chad Norman Day, president of the Tahltan Central Government. (THE CANADIAN PRESS/HO)
B.C. Indigenous nation opposes mineral exploration in culturally sensitive area

There’s “no way” the Tahltan would ever support a mine there, says Chad Norman Day, president of its central government

Stz’uminus Elder George Harris, Ladysmith Mayor Aaron Stone, and Stz’uminus Chief Roxanne Harris opened the ceremony. (Cole Schisler photo)
Symbolic red dresses rehung along B.C. highway after vandals tore them down

Leaders from Stz’uminus First Nation and the Town of Ladysmith hung new dresses on Sat. April 17

A Western toadlet crosses the centre line of Elk View Road in Chilliwack on Aug. 26, 2010. A tunnel underneath the road has since been installed to help them migrate cross the road. Saturday, April 24 is Save the Frogs Day. (Jenna Hauck/ Progress File)
Unofficial holidays: Here’s what people are celebrating for the week of April 18 to 24

Save the Frogs Day, Love Your Thighs Day and Scream Day are all coming up this week

The Attorney General’s Ministry says certain disputes may now be resolved through either a tribunal or the court system, pending its appeal of a B.C. Supreme Court decision that reduced the tribunal’s jurisdiction. (AP Photo/Mark J. Terrill)
Court of Appeal grants partial stay in ruling on B.C. auto injuries

B.C. trial lawyers challenged legislation brought in to cap minor injury awards and move smaller court disputes to the Civil Resolution Tribunal

Most Read