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As It Was: “Toggery Bill” Offers Fine Clothing and Angling Advice

In 1903, William F. Isaacs opened the Toggery on Main Street in Medford, Ore., offering fine clothing, hats and gloves.  A son of Oregon pioneers, Isaacs was an avid fly fisherman and believed in the power of advertising.

Isaacs learned the business quickly and spread the word by hanging signs on bridges and barns throughout Jackson County. He soon was known as “Toggery Bill” and for his advertising slogan, “The Toggery of Course.”  At first, to make business appear to be booming, he had friends leave the store with bundles of purchases, then immediately return them through the rear entrance.

The business thrived and moved to a bigger store on Main Street that now houses the U.S. Bank.  Isaacs became a prominent booster of Medford business and culture.  He sang in local opera productions as founder of the Choral Society.

Isaacs was known also for his fly fishing.  Serious fishermen from across the country would stop at Toggery Bill’s before heading to the Rogue River.  Isaacs retired from the Toggery in 1938 and spent much of his retirement fishing and playing bridge at the Medford Hotel.


Sources: Alley, Bill. “Toggery Bill, Of Course.” Southern Oregon Heritage Today, May 2001, p.14.

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Sharon Bywater of Ashland, Oregon grew up in Southern California. She taught English literature and writing at Syracuse University in New York, where she also wrote and edited adult literacy books and published freelance articles in local media. Later, she lived in Washington, D.C., where she worked as an international telecommunications policy advisor at the U.S. Department of Commerce. She has Master’s degrees in English and Communications Management.