DALTON PHARMACY GROUP OPERATES NINE ALABAMA PHARMACIES, INCLUDING ITS 121-YEAR-OLD SLOCOMB LOCATION
Twenty-year-old pharmacist Jep Paul “J.P.” Dalton set up shop in downtown Slocomb in 1903 to support his brother’s medical practice.
The small Geneva County town, known for its timber and tomatoes, had incorporated just two years before J.P. opened Dalton Drug Co. Besides medicines and over-the-counter drugs, the store sold seeds, jewelry, gifts and textbooks. First through 12th grade students at the Slocomb School would buy their books at the store.
J.P. had a stroke while attending a basketball game at the school in 1930 and died at age 49. His wife, Mantye Hollis Dalton, ran the business as a sundry store, dropping “drug” from the store’s name, until the oldest of her two sons, Charles Hollis Dalton, could graduate from Auburn University with a degree in pharmacy in 1934. Her youngest son, Paul Dalton, followed with a pharmacy degree in 1942. After four years in the Navy during World War II, Paul joined his brother in running the family pharmacy.
Paul practiced pharmacy for 60 years at the Slocomb store. “He never missed work, never complained,” Joe Dalton said of his father. Charles and Paul Dalton ran the store until Charles died in 1997.
Joe figures he started working at the pharmacy when he was six. The back wall of the Tomato Patch, a connected gift store, has a blown-up version of a photo of 6-year-old Joe sitting on a trash can outside the 141 S. Dalton St. store. In 1982, Joe received his pharmacy degree. He and Charlie Dalton, Charles’s son, both were full-time pharmacists at area hospitals, but helped their fathers run the Slocomb store as well.
From 1998 to 2008, Dalton Pharmacy moved to Slocomb Market Place Mini Mall on Alabama Highway 52 West. Joe had taken over ownership at that time and hired a pharmacist outside of the family, but Paul continued to work there until his death in 2006. Elaine King is the current pharmacist.
“We started out as a small family-owned pharmacy,” said Joe, the third-generation owner. “Over time, we changed our name to Dalton Pharmacy and expanded our services to include a broader range of healthcare products and services.” Those services include vaccinations, over-the-counter medications and delivering to customers unable to leave their homes.
The Dalton Pharmacy group now includes eight pharmacies in southeast and east-central Alabama and a ninth pharmacy in Double Springs in north Alabama. The Slocomb, Abbeville, Hartford, Troy and Opp stores operate under the Dalton name. The Dadeville, Headland, Luverne and Double Springs locations operate under other names. The group, which employs more than 50, bought the Headland and Luverne stores in 2022.
“We have ambitious plans for further expansion into new markets and communities,” Joe said. “We are actively exploring opportunities to open or purchase additional pharmacy locations. Our aim is to reach underserved areas, preserve small mom and pop pharmacies and support local communities.”
Tyler Dalton, Joe’s son, received his pharmacy doctorate in 2016 and is the seventh Dalton family member to be a pharmacist, including his mother, Jodi, who is a community pharmacist in Auburn.
“My mother and father continue to inspire and motivate me every single day,” said the fourth-generation pharmacist, who practices pharmacy at the family’s Dadeville store and regularly visits the others. “It is truly an honor to follow in my family’s footsteps.”
While Auburn is home base now for the Dalton family, Joe continues to do his part to keep Slocomb, where it all began, going.
“I renovated this building (the store at the corner East Slocomb St. and South Dalton St.) to close to the original appearance and bought the store next door, totally gutted it, knocked stucco off the wall and uncovered three fireplaces and the original brick walls,” he explained. His 2008 efforts started a renaissance in downtown Slocomb. The store next to the Tomato Patch gift store “renovated their building and then the next two buildings renovated and then, the physician’s office went in across the street.”
“Recently,” Tyler said of his dad, “he bought another old building, renovated it and turned it into his urban loft.”
Story and photos by Nancy King Dennis
This article also appears on Pages 4 and 5
of the February 2024 Alabama Retailer
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