Laurie Lyons and her husband Rob Lyons, owners of Let'er Buck Western Wear and Uniform Supply of Sonora, are retiring.
Rob Lyons, 59, is a former Tuolumne County Sheriff's deputy and search-and-rescue coordinator, and he worked with Cal OES on SAR operations. Laurie Lyons, 63, comes from generations of ranchers that date to the 19th century in Tuolumne County, and she used to do rodeo barrel racing, team roping and rodeo queen competitions before she began in western wear retail in Sonora.
The Lyons are retiring soon with their 33rd wedding anniversary coming up this Saturday. Their business, which they started in Jamestown back in 2003, moved to Sonora in 2009, and then to The Junction in 2019, will continue under a new owner, Erin Long.
Rob Lyons started with the Tuolumne County Sheriff’s Department in 1990, worked as a paramedic in the Turlock area, then did law enforcement academy and became a sworn deputy in 1999. Around 2005, he began supervising search-and-rescue and whenever the county needed mutual aid he’d contact the state Office of Emergency Services. He retired from the Sheriff’s Office in December 2018.
Rob Lyons said over his years helping lead search-and-rescue for the Tuolumne County Sheriff’s Office, more than any single mission or the quantity of call-outs, what he remembers most is the dedication, preparedness, and perseverance of the volunteers he worked with.
“They’d be ready to go in the water, in the snow, in aircraft, on cliffs,” Rob Lyons said Tuesday in a phone interview. “One time we were working a call at Pinecrest where they had to go in the water to help people. Then they got called up to near Leavitt Peak, a helicopter dropped them in, they had to rappel with ropes, spend the night by a waterfall, and wait for Mono County.”
Laurie Lyons was born in Sonora and graduated from Sonora High School with the class of 1976. She was a rodeo queen in 1974 in La Grange and in 1976 in Sonora. She’s been working western wear retail since she was in her 20s. She’s always worked two jobs at a time. She worked for a time as a heavy equipment operator for her dad, Dave Fraser Sr., and D.P. Fraser Construction of Sonora. She said she used to drive a TD25 bulldozer, water trucks, and dump trucks, “anything I could jump in and go. Horse, car, tractor, truck.”
Her first venture in business was Giddy Up Go, which she ran for 15 years. She was a western riding instructor for students from 5 years old to 90, based at Frasers Ranch off Lime Kiln Road. She worked with quarterhorses, thoroughbreds, Arabians, and Apaloosas, “whatever was gentle with kids.”
Frasers Ranch is still there, and her mom is 90 years old, Laurie Lyons said.
She closed Giddy Up Go in 2008 when the economy crashed and most parents could afford less. Meanwhile, she and her husband had opened Let’er Buck in 2003 on Main Street in Jamestown, where The Wild Rose Gift Shop is today. She moved the business to Lemon Street in Jamestown temporarily, and then to South Washington Street in downtown Sonora in 2009.
Meanwhile, she was working for Cover’s Apple Ranch in Tuolumne and for the Chicken Ranch Rancheria of Me-Wuk Indians of California.
The Lyons moved Let'er Buck Western Wear and Uniform Supply to The Junction shopping center in East Sonora in 2019.
“We hated moving again,” Laurie Lyons said Tuesday. “But The Junction has been an awesome move for us. The owners here, they’ve been very patient with all the businesses here, given the COVID economy. Look at all the other stores that have closed elsewhere. They were very patient with us while we were shut down for three months. We still had to pay utilities, workers comp, insurance, and other expenses. It was hard this past year, but I had faith. I knew we weren’t going to go under.
“Then the holidays came and the community really supported the locals. We’re very grateful.”
Let'er Buck Western Wear and Uniform Supply carries uniforms, boots, and gear for law enforcement, firefighters, correctional officers, and loggers. These days Laurie Lyons also runs Sierra Memories Photography and she uses a Canon 5D digital single lens reflex camera to make portraits and other images. She is proud of her daughter, Danielle Helm, 42, and Kayla Pfeiffer, 37, who own and run La ti Da Salon on South Stewart Street in downtown Sonora.
Asked when they plan to turn Let'er Buck Western Wear and Uniform Supply over to Long and officially retire, Laurie Lyons said “in the next 60 days.” She’s excited to begin her next adventures. She remembers starting out working for Lolly’s, one of the oldest western wear places in Sonora.
“I could tell I had the passion for it,” Laurie Lyons said. “It came from my family. Cowboys, ranchers, and loggers. Going back here to the 1800s.”
Contact Guy McCarthy at firstname.lastname@example.org or 770-0405. Follow him on Twitter at @GuyMcCarthy.