The History of Goodson Drugs


Jim and Mary Goodson founded Goodson Drug Company in Cumming, Georgia in 1959. Mary continued to work in the store well into her eighties, becoming a lovable, white haired fixture in the store. She was always eager to cut up with the customers and provide wisdom and advice (sometimes unsolicited). Jim’s larger than life stories continue to be told among the pharmacy’s patrons, some tales seeming unbelievable.

After graduating from the University of Georgia College of Pharmacy in 1955, Jim Goodson began working at Garner Drug Store in Buford, Georgia. Garner Drug store was owned by Chief Garner, a druggist from an entirely different era of pharmacy. Mr. Garner had no formal pharmacy education and learned the art as an apprentice. He was grandfathered into the profession as a licensed pharmacist. After working for several years with Chief Garner, Jim and Mary decided to open their own pharmacy in Cumming, Georgia. Cumming was chosen because of its convenient proximity to Buford and also because of its lack of pharmacy competition. It is hard to imagine but in 1959 Cumming only had one drug store, Cumming Drugs.

Jim and Chief Garner - 1959

Jim and Chief Garner

Old Store - 1959

Goodson Drugs – Original Location

On July 24, 1959 Goodson Drug Co. opened its doors to the public. The original location of the pharmacy was across the square from the current location, an area now occupied by walkways around Cumming City Hall. At the time, the pharmacy was located between Ramey’s Dry Goods and Cumming Jewelry Co. Jim and Mary were able to slowly, but steadily, build their business.   This was fueled in part by a community wanting a better pharmacy and also by cheap and plentiful labor provided by their sons, Jimmy, Phil, Byron and Brinkley. Jimmy Goodson began working in the pharmacy on opening day at age 12.

Upon opening, Goodson Drug Co. began using McKesson as its pharmacy wholesaler with Ed Cooper as their sales representative. Ed was more than a sales rep to the Goodson family. He would help with ordering, returns, and even pitch in giving the children rides to and from work and school. The bond between Goodson Drug Co. and McKesson continues today. McKesson is still the primary wholesaler and the current representative is Steve Moore, one of the last reps trained by Ed Cooper.

Two of Jim Goodson’s sons, Jimmy and Phil, pursued pharmacy as a profession. Both began attending the University of Georgia College of Pharmacy in the late 1960s and graduated in the early 1970s.

In 1970 the Drugstore moved from one side of the courthouse square to the other. This is the current location and it was a much larger building (5 times as much room) including a pharmacy, The Bulldog Inn (a diner serving everything from coffee to full meals), and a Gift Gallery containing various sundries and gifts. Jimmy and Phil began running the pharmacy, taking over more managerial duties from their father. Mary Goodson continued running the non-pharmacy areas of the store including the Gift Gallery and the Bulldog Inn.

After about three years the Bulldog Inn was requiring too much attention, taking away from the pharmacy end of the business. Phil actually worked several of his pharmacy intern hours flipping burgers behind the grill. The decision was made to close the Bulldog Inn. Today all that remains of the Bulldog Inn is the tiled floor, a large University of Georgia shaped G on the wall, and a small length of the bar complete with swiveling chairs.

Phil and Jimmy ran the pharmacy together for about seven years.   In the late 1970s Phil left and opened his own pharmacy, Goodson Pharmacy, in Dawsonville, Georgia. The two pharmacies have worked alongside one anther, serving different communities of North Georgia for decades. While they are not officially connected, the two pharmacies and families continue to work together well.

New Store Location

Current Location – 1970

1982- Computerized System

Computerized Pharmacy Records – 1982

Around 1982 Goodson Drug Co. was one of the first pharmacies in the state to adopt computerized pharmacy records. Made up of dot matrix printers, large bulky keyboards, and boxy screens with tiny readouts the system seems archaic by today’s standards. When it is compared to the typewriters, hand stamping and filing that it replaced, though, it seemed state of the art and space aged. This computer system allowed for better patient care. It gave a more thorough record. The system provided a patient record that could be easily accessed, showing allergies and drug interactions, as well as a more detailed and concise medication history.   This was the first tentative steps to what would be commonplace in the medical field.

In 1988 Rance Cain, pharmacist and school friend of Jimmy, was hired. In 1990 Margaret Hinson, also a pharmacist, was added to the roster of employees. Like Jimmy, both Rance and Margaret have become invaluable fixtures at Goodson Drug Co.

In the 1990s Jimmy’s brother Byron began expanding the home health services provided by the store. Focus was on durable medical equipment, ostomy supplies, and braces. At the height of these services, Byron was helping people put in hospital beds and convert rooms in their houses into a more comfortable space for healing than a hospital room. Over time these services diminished somewhat. Now there is less focus on hospital beds but the store continues to keep a solid line of home health care supplies, ostomy supplies and a wide range of braces and compression hoses.

In 1997 Jennifer Richardson, Rance Cain’s daughter, began working as a pharmacist at Goodson Drug Co. In 1999 Donna Sigmund, a pharmacist who grew up working in her father’s pharmacy in New Jersey, joined the ranks at Goodson Drug.

In 2003 Goodson Drug Co. was almost uprooted and moved from its spot on the square.   There was a need for a larger courthouse and Forsyth County had its eye on expanding to the side of the square that contained Goodson Drug and Wachovia Bank. After narrowly winning a county wide vote it was determined that the store could stay. The county would go on to build a impressively commanding courthouse on the other side of the square.

1982- Computerized System

Goodson Drugs survives a possible forced move

Forsyth County News - 2009

Forsyth County News – 2009

As the 2000s progressed people began wanting drugs that were tailor made for them. A process known as compounding, which, although as old as pharmacy itself, began garnering more interest with the public. Goodson Drug Co., which had been compounding from the beginning was happy to oblige and steps were made to build the compounding business. Connections were made with various pharmaceutical chemical companies to provide the needed resources to make these compounded medications.

In 2009 Lee Goodson graduated from the University of Georgia College of Pharmacy and began working, alongside his father, as a pharmacist at Goodson Drug Co. In 2010 Maria Bray began working as a pharmacist, providing a Spanish-speaking pharmacist to the staff.

After much consideration in 2013 the pharmacy was expanded. This provided more work area for the employees, more storage area for the medicine and more counseling area for the patients. During this time a dedicated compounding room was also built. This helped to further expand Goodson Drug Co.’s compounding service.

In 2014 Megan Scott was added as a pharmacist. She brought with her a clinical background that formed several clinical services to the pharmacy. These included immunizations and managed therapy management.