Customers of Saults Drug Store on Court Street might notice a new face behind the pharmacy counter, though he's no stranger to the business. Mark Jennings, formerly a staff worker at Red Cross Pharmacy, (and its predecessor, Dunavants,) has come on board at Saults, the beginnings of a process to gradually take the reigns from current owner and operator Al Real.
Real has been involved with Saults since he came to Fulton and started buying shares from founder Lee Saults in 1972. Jennings had originally called Saults regarding a position there, but the timing wasn't right for it then. That changed recently when Real decided its time to start stepping back from full ownership himself.
"I don't have to retire now, but I don't want to wait until the last minute down the road, and not have someone like Mark for ownership," said Real.
Real intends to stay at Saults, but he will only work about 15 to 20 hours a week. The bulk of his duties and work time will then go to Jennings, who started working there April 23. They said the process of transferring shares over to Jennings has begun but is still ongoing, as it takes a while to take care of the paperwork.
Jennings has worked as a staffer in pharmacies for about 24 years - 16 at Gerbes, and eight at his previous job at Red Cross/Dunavants. He believes that his time there has prepared him well for an ownership position like at Saults.
"I want to continue good, friendly service," said Jennings. "The last places I worked at treated people fairly and with respect. I hope to continue that and earn peoples' trust."
While both men are confident in Jennings' ability to manage the drug store, he is glad Real will still hold a stake in Saults and be involved in the pharmacy.
"Now he can hang around and show me the ropes," said Jennings. "He'll be around to pull us out of the fire."