102 Years of the West on Main Street

Nearly 102 years ago, the Toggery was born to provide fine men’s apparel to the Eastern High Sierra communities. Today, the Toggery, nestled in downtown on Main Street, attempts to go back in time by providing an “old-style, old West, charm and function, clothing store.”

Our continued goal is to offer variety in western wear for men, women, youth, and kids clothing. The Toggery has always been known as the go-to western wear store in the Eastern High Sierra. Moreover, the Toggery prides itself in remaining a steadfast icon within the community.

Gary Williamson, who was the store’s manager for 63 years, once said, “The Toggery fits into small-town life. Essentially, the Toggery personifies the great quality of Bishop. It’s a place that runs the way the world used to.”

Opening Day, 1922

The Main Street frontage, including what was part of the Valley View Hotel, were all changing from frame to concrete, and on September 21, 1922, The Toggery opened-up its new haberdashery.

Owners Mr. R. W. Eldred and Mr. W. H. Koch had successfully moved from their temporary home at the Clark Hotel to the spacious new store, complete with a three-chair barbershop. The haberdashery specialized in men’s clothing, accessories, hats, fine handkerchiefs, belts, and tailored suits. Business was conducted from a roll-top desk at the back of the store, and the ad in the Inyo Register, from September 21, 1922, said “the store expects to give high-grade service, at reasonable prices.”

Today, our ancient National cash register from the past is still showcased in our store as an enduring reminder of our long-standing presence of offering western wear. We are committed to having well-stocked shelves. From Pendleton blankets, Carhartt work wear, Levi’s and Wrangler jeans, woolen winter shirts, stylish Stetson and Resistol hats, fine leather belts, boots and Minnetonka footwear, and women’s shirts, our selection of apparel is really not much different from the early days.

Heck, we even have some of the classic Stetson and Resistol hats from the 1960s-1970s, for those who would appreciate some vintage headwear.

“Alex” M. D. Alexander bought The Toggery in 1961

“Alex” M. D. Alexander bought The Toggery in 1961, when a pair of Drover boots for kids cost $12.95, and the town’s teenagers could get their graduation suits from the clothing store. Back then, locals were fitted for wedding tuxedos and Homecoming attire, while miners and ranchers purchased work pants, gloves, and Justin boots. A half-century later, that personal attention, and quality attire is still foremost. Providing free gift wrapping, stylish perfumes, fittings for high school rodeo debuts and Mule Days’ parade appearances, wedding formal wear, and the perfect gift for most occasions; The Toggery remains a destination of choice for the Eastern High Sierra shopper.

"It’s a view that hasn’t changed much over the years,” Williamson said, during the fall of 2011 interview. The store “runs nice and smooth and easy all these years,” and the “older customers like it, it reminds them of the old store.” The 1922 goal of “High-grade service, at reasonable prices” still resonates.

The Toggery has been owned for years by the Sessums Family. Herb Sessums, a retired dentist from Bishop, along with his family is actively involved with the day to day the direction and maintenance of the store.

The Toggery is so very fortunate to have long-time employees, like Phyllis Stroud, Trish Belgard, Linda Jenkins, and Elijah Muldoon. Recently, the Toggery was able to discover a new face of the Toggery, by hiring Justin Snyder, as the store’s manager. The collective group continues to be committed to providing great customer service and great products for everyone that comes through the Toggery doors.

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