Desert Vintage, a vintage and antique clothing & accessories shop in Tucson, was founded in 1974. Current owners, Salima Boufelfel and Roberto Cowan, took over Desert Vintage in 2012, and liking the name decided to keep it. They recently redesigned the shop with the help of interior designer and friend, Casey Smith. The new space is a serene oasis for Salima and Roberto’s unique collection of vintage and antique items. If you can’t to make the trip to Tucson, Desert Vintage shows a selection of their vintage collection at A Current Affair, a vintage clothing, accessories and jewelry show, twice a year in New York, San Francisco and Los Angeles. Roberto and Salima share their story, Roberto’s beautiful photography of the shop, and some of their vintage pieces.
What is Desert Vintage known for? We are known for early womenswear. We like things that feel ethereal and timeless but have off-kilter details. Like an eccentric collar or a huge sleeve..
Where do you source your products? We source our products from all over the country, the hunt is never ending!
What makes your shop unique? We wanted to create a shop that felt transportive. Our location is unique (we are in the middle of the desert) so to be able to create a type of ‘refuge’ filled with beauty and light was one of our end goals for the new space.
Who are your customers? People that seek out one-of-a-kind garments that have a precious quality to them. People who have an old world sensibility and affinity for rare treasures.
How has the internet impacted your business? The internet has had an amazing impact on our business. It has allowed us to connect with inspiring customers on a local and global level!
Roberto Cowan and Salima Boufelfel, shopkeepers at Desert Vintage. Portrait by Kami Boufelfel
Who inspires you? The past inspires us.
What inspires you? Roberto:For me it doesn’t have to be a person, place or thing, I am inspired by moments in time, films I’ve seen, people I’ve met, little moments in my personal life.. I have a great affinity with Dandies. | Salima: Art, in all its forms is a great inspiration to me..It is all encompassing and seems to make everything better..Our customers are also a constant source of inspiration..and travel!
Before we were shopkeepers, we…. Roberto: I did a lot of volunteer work. I worked for the red cross and I worked for the city of Tucson architects (I delivered all of their mail). | Salima: I worked at a small vintage shop in Paris..that was my first job selling vintage, I never looked back:)
The hardest lesson learned in starting a business? Never be afraid to take risks.
What task do you like to delegate? Accounting !
The best lesson you have learned opening a shop? Having the freedom to create openly and freely.
Your advice for anyone wanting to open a shop? Be singular and unique in your vision…work hard!
Which famous person would you like to visit your shop? The Obamas
If you weren’t a shopkeeper you would be..? Roberto: A stylist.| Salima: Art Dealer
What is your perfect day off? Being at the beach with our friends and family.
A favorite neighborhood coffee shop? Exo Coffee shop is next door to us and absolutely amazing
We wish we could… Add a couple extra hours in the day
On the Future of Retail
“Create beautiful, unique spaces with intention.”
403 N 6th Ave #119, Tucson, Arizona
Photography by Roberto Cowan.