The austere beauty of Joshua Tree National Park may draw crowds to the high desert, but the retail shops along Twentynine Palms Highway (California 62) are where visitors spend their non-hiking, non-rock-climbing time, much to the joy and consternation of residents who live here year-round.
Prompted by an influx of city dwellers who escaped to the desert during the COVID-19 pandemic, the strip has experienced an influx of new retail establishments over the last few years — everything from hip bodegas to high-end fashion brands.
“Like many locals, I am glad to be able to make a living from our shop in the desert,” said artist Janelle Pietrzak, who sells her All Roads textiles and home goods at the new 10,000-square-foot Mojave Flea Trading Post. “However, I am distraught to see many friends getting kicked out of their rental homes because their landlords have decided to sell. Locals cannot find places to rent because landlords would rather Airbnb their properties out.”
Joshua Tree has gone upscale, but don’t worry — it’s still funky.
Despite the fact that much has changed — sustainable fashion brand Industry of All Nations recently opened in Joshua Tree and small-batch bakeries like Luna Sourdough, Campbell Hill Bakery and Wild Bread are thriving alongside cool bodegas Wine & Rock Shop, Joshua Tree Bottle Shop and Desierto Alto — longtime favorites with a “Joshua Tree vibe” remain.
You can still shop for vintage clothing at the End in Yucca Valley and score some cool pottery and cheeky T-shirts at the Station in Joshua Tree, a gift shop cleverly housed in a former 1949 Richfield Oil gas station. Artist Shari Elf continues to sell inexpensive screen-printed artworks and T-shirts with funny captions like “What Would Cher Do?” at Art Queenjust a few dusty steps from her World Famous Crochet Museuma delightful lime-green camera-shaped trailer jam-packed with crocheted critters.
Can stylish leather goods by La Cienega shop RTH coexist alongside the recycled items at the outdoor Sky Village Swap Meet held every weekend in a former drive-in theater? That’s the beauty of the Mojave Desert.
Here is a shopping roundup from a recent day trip from L.A. As with our lists of Los Angeles gift shops, plant stores and thrift stores, this is not meant to be a definitive list but a way to spotlight small businesses.