Desert Modern Takes Center Stage at Rancho Relaxo

Locally loved Rancho Relaxo expands with a second location, bringing free-spirited desert finds to The Gardens on El Paseo.
Story By: Marissa Kozma
Photography by Tara Howard, courtesy Rancho Relaxo
The colorful T-shirts emblazoned with a pair of roadrunners and the words “Rancho Relaxo” just keep flying off the shelves, and the love forRancho Relaxo continues to grow in the Coachella Valley. The store that celebrates life in the desert launched in November 2019, selling free-spirited finds and artisan-made treasures to customers eager to shop local.

After the success of its flagship boutique at The Atrium in Rancho Mirage, Rancho Relaxo has expanded to a second sparkling, 1,000-square-foot shop at The Gardens on El Paseo with haute new neighbors Gucci, Tiffany & Co., Eileen Fisher, and Todd & Company. A mural by local artist John Cuevas marks the entry.

The second Rancho Relaxo, which opened in October, sells the same curated merch — candles, towels, sunglasses, jewelry, clothing, books, and more — albeit with a nod to the posh promenade atmosphere. We spoke with storeowner Stella Adena about her debut in Palm Desert and what it’s like being the new kid on the very-chic block.

Rancho Relaxo Palm Desert
Rancho Relaxo Palm Desert

So, how did you land in Palm Desert?

Taubman, who is the property manager for The Gardens, actually approached me this summer. When they approached me and I checked it out, I was just very impressed with the location. I couldn’t believe that it was available. They’ve been an amazing supporter. The city of Palm Desert has been amazing. Taubman has been amazing. So, the location kind of found me.

Did you have plans to differentiate the El Paseo store from your flagship in Rancho Mirage?

Our DNA is really strong in terms of our branded apparel — everything Rancho Relaxo — and curating around the theme of “desert modern.” So, I stayed true to that, but … I did elevate.

In sunglasses, I brought in Tom Ford. In hats, a line that I’ve carried very successfully, Eric Javits. And then I developed some new T-shirts that I didn’t have at The Atrium. The appetite for anything that says “Rancho Relaxo” is extremely strong.

Getting customers to go back and forth from one location to the next has been magical. I’ll be there [on El Paseo] in the morning, and then I’ll drive to the other location in the evening, and I’ll see some of the same customers. It’s been really wonderful. For that reason, I’m going to continue to expand my Rancho Relaxo gear, my T-shirts, my hats, my mugs, my magnets. Continuing to build on it, but probably offering the same assortment in both [locations], because the appetite for it is so strong.

The name “Rancho Relaxo” is unique. How did you come up with it?

Yeah, that’s an interesting story. My husband is from the D.C. area, and when he graduated from college 30 years ago, he and his best friend randomly drove across the country — their destination was Rancho Mirage.

The whole road trip, they referred to it as “Rancho Relaxo.” So, my husband has always referred to Rancho Mirage as Rancho Relaxo. We’ve lived here for 11 years. And I love the name. When I was thinking of my shop, and what I was going to call it, well, I love alliteration. The name just kind of stuck with me. It was really the only name that was on my list.

I developed a logo with a friend who lives in Ohio. And my guidance to her was, “I want a logo that’s going to sell a million T-shirts.” And she designed my logo, which is on track to sell a million T-shirts. It’s been amazing. The name has really struck a chord in a way that I had hoped would happen, but way better than I ever imagined.

The clientele out here, there’s just an appetite for fun that I haven’t seen elsewhere. Everyone is just on vacation or retired. They’re on desert time, and so they like that fashion.

What other items do you sell?

We represent all classifications. Offering a democratic retail experience is something that is very important to me. I want to be able to offer something for everyone. We have items that are $3, and we have items that are $300. Like I said, it’s curated around the theme of desert modern. So, customers are definitely going to find a lot of earth tones, a lot of desert botanicals. We sell a lot of candles, a lot of incense, a lot of functional items like hats for sun protection. But there’s definitely something for everyone. Which sounds a little trite, but it is very close to my heart that anyone who comes into our shop feels welcome and feels like it’s accessible.

Rancho Relaxo Palm Desert

You sell a lot of local items and support local artisans. How important is that mission to you as a storeowner?

Incredibly important. Over 30 percent of our business is California vendors. And I mean, this is where I’m going to get a little emotional, because these are real people that I’m dealing with. This is real product that they’re creating.

It’s not coming on a ship from China. It’s not being mailed via UPS with a lot of packaging. It’s being hand-delivered to our shop, that the community is making. These are people’s livelihoods. … The customers are voting with their dollars — that’s what they’re wanting.

Which vendors are blowing your mind right now?

Island Tribe [produces] amazing apparel. In terms of candles, Molly Moon. In terms of jewelry, MarLA. And we sell so much of MarLA’s jewelry. The customers absolutely love it. Desert Supreme, they’ve created a custom fragrance for us — a relaxing roll-on with Scotch pine, grapefruit, and patchouli.

That’s so fun! Have you thought about expanding to a third location in the future? Are there any other places that you’ve thought about that might be great?

Well, our next location is going to be at the Palm Springs Airport. It’s very exciting. We’re a joint-venture partner of Marshall Retail Group, who won the retail contract for the airport. So that’s going to roll out over the next nine months.

That’ll be great! Is it going to be a smaller shop?

It’s a shop-in-shop. But the bigger picture is that Rancho Relaxo is a joint-venture partner in it, which is a big honor.

Yeah, that’s awesome. Apart from the airport, are there any other locations that maybe aren’t in the works that you’ve thought about?

I think that Rancho Relaxo can be in every resort destination in the world, to be honest. I mean, there’s a lot of potential for the brand, based on how people have responded to the name.

Would you keep that desert theme if you expanded?

No, I think sense of place in retail is paramount. Every community has their own sense of place that needs to be celebrated. I think retail is shifting, definitely. Especially over the last three years, there have been dramatic shifts. And one thing that is very important to me is celebrating the humanity behind retail. That there are actual people who are making this product. There are real people who are doing this out in the desert. The creative community in the Coachella Valley is world-class.