Ray Jackson's first clothing business was small in stature, an Ashland store that cost him about $75 a month in rent.
"I pretty much ran the store by myself for about 10 years," Jackson says. "I had a little part-time help from college guys."
Nearly 50 years and several moves later, Jackson's Men's Store, at 1251 E. McAndrews Road in Medford, is closing up shop. Its final day of business is Tuesday, and a restaurant is due to take its place.
"I'm going to miss the people," Jackson says. "We had an awful lot of people who were really loyal to our store and came in here all the time."
Jackson started the Ashland store in 1966 at the age of 24. He'd become interested in the work from a past job at a tailor's outlet called the Rogue Shop, where he worked during his junior and senior years of college.
"I really enjoyed the business, really kind of took to it," Jackson says. "(I) kind of decided that after I graduated from school, that's what I wanted to do."
He dubbed that first business, at 167 E. Main St., The Clothes Closet.
Longtime employee Bob Counts, a transplant from Cottage Grove, came on soon after the store opened.
"Ray has always treated me more than fairly," Counts said. "Overall, it's been a great experience."
Jackson stayed in Ashland until 1989, when he moved the business to the Rogue Valley Mall to take over Drew's Man Store. His next move, to the Medford Center, came in 1999. He moved to the McAndrews Road location in 2008.
"We've pretty much been a service-oriented store all the time," Jackson says.
The market has changed, he adds. In past years, manufacturers of goods were heavily involved in setting prices.
"So you didn't see all the discounting going on in those days," Jackson says. "People kind of selected stores by the type of service they got rather than by price."
The advent of big-box stores around 1975 changed things, he says.
"That made it much more difficult for the independent retailers," Jackson says.
Regulars say the store will be missed.
"I really think it's unfortunate that one of the few places to get better men's clothing is going away," said Mark Marchetti, who has been a customer since 2004. "It's very pleasant to have a store you can go to where you deal with the same person who knows what you like. I like that sense of a personal connection."
Employees say they will miss it, too.
Nadine Sankey, who does alterations for the store, said Jackson's has been a great place to work.
"I can't really fathom it's over," she said.
Jackson isn't sure what's next for him after the doors close Tuesday. He will retire and take a month or so off, but he plans to stay busy.
"I'm the kind of a person who still has quite a bit of energy," he says.
Reach reporter Ryan Pfeil at 541-776-4468 or email@example.com.