Mountain Mama brings signature style to Sierra foothills for 35 years

By: Gloria Young Journal Staff Writer
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When Judith Gordon-Lawson opened her clothing shop in 1974, she brought a little hippie vibe to Downtown Auburn. Her patched jeans and embroidered tops were an instant success. “People loved the store from the day we opened,” Gordon-Lawson said this week. Thirty-five years later, the business is now located in a bigger space at the Auburn Town Center and still carries fun, trendy fashions. The economic slowdown and Gottschalks’ closure have had an impact on foot traffic. But Gordon-Lawson is expanding customer reach via e-mail, Web site and Facebook. She also has initiated occasional tent sales. “That definitely draws people in,” she said. “They can see it from a distance. Frequently people who’ve never been into the store will pop by because they see the clothes under the tent.” The store’s name comes from the John Denver song, “Country Roads.” The song encapsulated her feelings about moving from New York to the California foothills in the early 1970s. “I just wanted to move to the country,” she said about traveling 3,000 miles cross-country to make a new home. “It was ‘California Dreamin’ and very cool to be in California.” Gordon-Lawson keeps up with styles and trends at trade shows, traveling 10 times a year to browse through merchandise from manufacturing representatives from all over the world. “I shop very specifically for my one store,” she said. “Over the years I’ve learned what (my customers) want. I only buy things I like personally. I’m very lucky that people like what I like.” Many of those customers have been shopping at the store for decades. “They’ll say, ‘I bought this outfit from 15 years ago,’” she said. “They love that history.” Auburn resident Gail Nunes has been visiting the store since it opened. “I remember when she had tie-dye stuff in the Gold Country Mall,” Nunes said. “It was a cute little shop and she was a very nice person. I just enjoyed going in there. As the years keep going by, she has evolved (the fashions) with the times.” Customer Isabel Toro, another Auburn resident, discovered the shop in the early 1990s. “The store has always had very unique clothing and very different, and very classy,” Toro said. “I have many pieces I’ve purchased from her. It’s the fabrics she chooses and how the styles fit you that’s very nice.” Interaction with the community over the years is what Gordon-Lawson enjoys most. “I have come to realize that fashion is more of an attitude and not an age, and that style has nothing to do with being young,” she said in a press release. “It is a pleasure to see women enjoy what I’ve selected on my buying trips, and an honor to have such loyalty.” Over the years, she’s watched styles come and go, and then come back again. “I see everything making a circle, but with a little bit of a different twist,” she said. “Shapes might be different and fabrics are always being improved.” Gordon-Lawson has a staff of three to assist in running the store. “We always have an ROP (Regional Occupational Program) student, “ she said. “We’ve had a lot of success with that program. The high school students come and work for credits and job experience. I actually hired two of my ROP students recently. One worked for two years and the other for about a year and a half now. They’ve gone on to fulfill their fashion aspirations. Both want to be designers and seeing the retail end of it gives them some good experience.” Mountain Mama is celebrating its 35th anniversary from Oct. 15 to 18 with discounts and prize drawings. Gloria Young can be reached at ------------------------------ Mountain Mama 358 Elm Ave., Auburn Town Center Phone: (530) 885-7935 Web site: Facebook: Mountain Mama Clothing