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Desperado captivates a bohemian inspired wardrobe to fit any lifestyle. Featuring a vast array or women’s clothing, footwear, and accessories plus gifts for women, men, kids & baby at a broad price point with outstanding customer service. Recognized for our incredible selection of custom boots and glamorous apparel- featuring Johnny Was, JW Love, Old Gringo, Liberty Black Boots, XCVI, Double D, PJ Salvage, Bandit Brand, Jafa, Bernie Mev, Aunts & Uncles Handbags, Sofft, Born, Minnetonka, denim by Driftwood, Dear John and Liverpool and many more.
Nearly 20 years ago Desperado began in Portland’s historic Pearl District as a high-end Western Lifestyle store carrying everything from custom boots to handmade rugs. In 2007,owner & proprietor Joanne Sunnarborg moved her business to Bend’s Old Mill District where she now offers a refreshingly unique shopping experience that can always include a complimentary local brew or fine wine. Don’t miss this eclectic boutique and shoe store where you may come in as a stranger but will always leave as a friend.
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Media Coverage for Desperado
Every year Desperado celebrates another year in operation with a trunk show and anniversary party. 2014 marks 18 years for Desperado and owner Joanne Sunnarborg.
Cascade Business News Fall 2013
Desperado Diversifies as it Celebrates 17 Years
Sep 30, 2013 By REBECCA MEADE
It doesn’t take a second look to see Joanne Sunnarborg knows fashion. At first glance you see a slim blonde dressed to the nines wearing an outstanding pair of custom cowboy boots. Sunnarborg says with a smile, “I started to pay attention to fashion in the first grade, but the most important thing I’ve learned over the years is making sure a person is comfortable in what they are wearing.”
It’s that later philosophy she gives credit to her business success. As the owner and proprietor of Desperado in the Old Mill District, Sunnarborg is about to celebrate the boutique’s 17th anniversary.
In today’s economy that’s no small feat. “I don’t pretend this has been an easy journey,” Sunnarborg shrugs. “Boutiques don’t sell products people have to have so I appreciate every customer who walks through my door. Any little thing I can do to help that customer have a good experience is what keeps them coming back.”
Sunnarborg is proud of her loyal customer following. Desperado spent its first 11 years in two locations in Portland’s historic upscale Pearl District. It started as a high-end western lifestyle boutique. Sunnarborg says, “I fell in love with western art you can wear. It’s uniquely American. It’s part of our country’s history.”
A week after opening in the Pearl she sold her first pair of $1,500 custom made cowboy boots. In the decade that followed her customers included stars like Academy-Award winner William Hurt and Country Pop-star Taylor Swift.
“I have customers from my time in Portland who still shop at Desperado every year while vacationing in Bend,” says Sunnarborg. “We’re known for our great outdoors, our excellent crafted beer and more and more I hear visitors tell me we have the best boutiques around.”
Bend was once Sunnarborg’s vacation destination too. So when her youngest child went off to college Sunnarborg decided it was time to make Central Oregon her permanent home.
“I signed my lease in the Old Mill District in 2005. I went into construction to customize the store and opened my doors in ’07,” recalls Sunnarborg. Then the economy tanked. Over the next several years Sunnarborg watched two neighboring major retail chains and a small shoe store close in the Old Mill’s north end. Sunnarborg says, “It was brutal, there were days when no one came in.”
But fortunately that’s changing. Sunnarborg pulled herself up by her bootstraps, and began looking for ways to expand her customer base. “It’s not all western anymore. We offer clothes, boots, jewelry and gifts that fit the Central Oregon lifestyle. I would describe the new Desperado as a mix of bohemian charm with the latest on trend fashion for women and men,” says Sunnarborg. “I’ve expanded our price point too. We still carry many of our high end lines, but if it’s a $39 shirt at Desperado, it’s going to look great and be well made. I’m going to stand behind it.”
Later this fall she plans an exciting transformation for the store with new paint and interior changes that will capture the fresh attention to the latest trend in fashion. And starting on Friday, October 11 through Sunday, October 13, Desperado will celebrate the store’s 17th year of business. Desperado will have a weekend of festivities including trunk shows with Old Gringo Boots, Oregon silver and pewter jewelry maker Toby & Max and Central Oregon artist Barbara Slater.
There will also be a kickoff party and wine tasting Friday night from 5-8 pm with Desperado’s new neighbor in the Old Mill District – Naked Winery.
Sunnarborg says, “We hope to have a crowd. We look forward to seeing our loyal customers. We also would love to see people who’ve never shopped with us before. And to our customers who haven’t been by in a while, come see what’s new. Desperado is like a family and our customers are part of it.”
And that Sunnarborg says is reason to celebrate.
In 2011, Cascade A&E did a wonderful article on the shop, Joanne and the anniversary celebration.
by RENEE PATRICK Cascade A&E Editor, Fall 2011
Cowboy hats, custom made boots, beaded jewelry and western themed décor makes the Desperado Contemporary & Nostalgic Western Store a desired destination in Central Oregon. Celebrating 15 years in business with an eye towards fashion and the eclectic, owner Joanne Sunnarborg will be celebrating with a special anniversary party on October 7-8.
Desperado’s origins began in the Portland Pearl District in 1996. Having always been interested fashion, clothes and possessing a tremendous flair for dressing, Sunnarborg decided to open a distinctive shop following her original profession in the insurance industry. She wanted something high end with a unique theme. After dismissing several ideas, she realized Portland didn’t have a shop specifically focused on western attire. Sunnarborg had always enjoyed wearing western clothing, if only to be different while growing up on the east coast, so the leap to creating a store centered around stylish western fashions was a natural fit.
“What I love about the western theme is the history involved. The Native American art, hat making, boot making, beading, it is all wearable art. Things don’t go out of style because it is an art, a craft, a skill,” said Sunnarborg.
After 11 years in Portland, Sunnarborg was facing her son’s departure for college, and decided to move the western lifestyle boutique to Bend where the resort atmosphere would most certainly make it a popular store. She opened in 2007 in a brand new space in the Old Mill District. Many of her Portland customers lived in Bend, so she was fortunate to have a strong following from the start.
Soon the differences between doing business in Portland and Bend were evident. Leather jackets sold in Portland, not in Bend. Vests in Bend, but not Portland. Sunnarborg has since learned how to tailor her shop to the seasons, local flavor and the ebb and tide of the tourist season.
Sunnarborg shares that one of the greatest assets that has come from owning Desperado is not just helping to crush the Hee-Haw stereotype of western wear, but from the incredible friendships she has made through the store. Some of her best customers have become best friends. Much of her business has spread word-of-mouth, and she seems to like it that way.
Desperado carries a wide variety of fashion, but Sunnarborg pays special attention to her boot selection. Since opening the store, her relationship with boot maker Tony Benattar from Liberty Boot Company has helped launch his business and introduce his beautiful works of art to Central Oregon. Bennattar will be present at the anniversary celebration along with music from Greg Botsford and the Journeymen, food, drink and more.
Desperado pays special attention to local artist’s work. Barbara Slater’s western themed paintings hang on the walls, bead work from around Oregon is on display and Sunnarborg is always open to artists approaching her to sell or display western arts or crafts.
While life in retail can be challenging at times, Sunnarborg and her seven employees truly enjoy their work. Her goal is to continue to challenge those western stereotypes with attractive, fashionable and fun western couture.
To see the full article please go here.