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:

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


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

Just Posted

The District of North Saanich has issued a notice to remove this floating structure from the waters off Lillan Hoffar Park. (Wolf Depner/News Staff)
Boat owner ordered to vacate waters off North Saanich park

Couple have been living in floating structure off Lillian Hoffar Park for a number of years

Esquimalt High School is one of six Greater Victoria schools that reported a COVID-19 exposure over the weekend. (Black Press Media file photo)
Six new Greater Victoria school exposures reported over weekend

Steady rise in school exposures since return from spring break

Passengers in rows four to 10 onboard WestJet flight 449 from Calgary to Victoria April 6 were exposed to a case of COVID-19. (Black Press Media file photo)
Flight from Calgary to Victoria added to COVID-19 exposure list

Passengers onboard WestJet flight 449 April 6 affected

Paramedic Matthew Schlatter of Victoria is living a fuller life today due to the double lung transplant he received in 2019. He encourages B.C. residents to register as an organ donor and let their families know their wishes. (Instagram/Matthew Schlatter)
Victoria man living a full, active life after double lung transplant

Matt Schlatter encourages people to register as an organ donor to help others live

Victoria Police’s Explosive Disposal Unit came to Oak Bay April 10 to destroy a potentially dangrous explosive device that washed up on shore. (Oak Bay RCMP photo)
Washed-up explosive device destroyed by VicPD bomb squad

An Oak Bay resident called in the potentially dangerous debris

People take part in an anti-curfew protest in Montreal on Sunday April 11, 2021. Hundreds of people gathered in Old Montreal tonight in defiance of a new 8 p.m. curfew. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Giuseppe Valiante
VIDEO: Hundreds defy Montreal’s 8 p.m. curfew in violent, destructive protest

Quebec reported 1,535 new COVID-19 cases on Sunday, as well as five additional deaths linked to the virus

People walk past the Olympic rings in Whistler, B.C., Friday, May 15, 2020. Whistler which is a travel destination for tourists around the world is seeing the effects of travel bans due to COVID-19. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Jonathan Hayward
Adults living, working in Whistler, B.C., eligible for COVID-19 vaccine on Monday

The move comes as the province deals with a rush of COVID-19 and variant cases in the community

RCMP crest. (Black Press Media files)
UPDATE: RCMP investigating after child, 6, dies at motel in Duncan, B.C.

The BC Coroners Service is conducting its own investigation into the circumstances around the child’s death

RCMP display some of the fish seized from three suspects who pleaded guilty to violating the Fisheries Act in 2019, in this undated handout photo. THE CANADIAN PRESS/HO - RCMP
3 banned from fishing, holding licences after overfishing violations near Vancouver Island

Mounties seized the group’s 30-foot fishing vessel and all equipment on board at the time

B.C. Premier John Horgan responds to questions during a postelection news conference in Vancouver, on Sunday, October 25, 2020. British Columbia’s opposition Liberals and Greens acknowledge the COVID-19 pandemic has presented huge challenges for Horgan’s government, but they say Monday’s throne speech must outline a coherent plan for the province’s economic, health, social and environmental future. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Darryl Dyck
Horgan’s NDP to bring in throne speech in B.C., Opposition wants coherent plan

Farnworth said the budget will include details of government investment in communities and infrastructure

FILE - An arena worker removes the net from the ice after the Vancouver Canucks and Calgary Flames NHL hockey game was postponed due to a positive COVID-19 test result, in Vancouver, British Columbia, in this Wednesday, March 31, 2021, file photo. As vaccinations ramp up past a pace of 3 million a day in the U.S, the NHL is in a tougher spot than the other three major North American professional sports leagues because seven of 31 teams are based on Canada. (Darryl Dyck/The Canadian Press via AP, File)
Vancouver Canucks scheduled to practice Sunday, resume games April 16 after COVID outbreak

Canucks outbreak delayed the team’s season by eight games

Most Read