Desert Rose Boutique offers apparel, home décor and gifts inspired by the West. Photos courtesy of Leslie Distler.

Gift Shop Plus Fall 2023
Cowgirl Up: Desert Rose Boutique honors women of the West By Carly McFadden

Many stories go largely untold throughout history. But the National Cowgirl Museum & Hall of Fame is on a mission to ensure the stories of the women who have shaped the West are not lost.

Leslie Distler
Leslie Distler

Women pioneers, artists, writers, ranchers and more are showcased within the 33,000-square-foot building in Fort Worth, Texas. Its honorees include Sacagawea, Georgia O’Keeffe, Annie Oakley and Maria Martinez, among many others. The museum is made to welcome all ages and genders, as it features a bucking bronco, photo booth and immersive ranch video experience.

Desert Rose Boutique serves as the museum’s gift shop and aims to fulfill its mission with product offerings that amplify the spirit of women past and present who made their mark on the West.

“It definitely is a museum that exudes courage and diligence,” said Leslie Distler, buyer and manager of Desert Rose. “It is all about the women of the West, which was a very missed subject for a long, long time.”

Desert Rose carries a range of products such as clothing, toys, jewelry, souvenirs and home décor. What ultimately drives Distler’s role at the boutique is finding items that pay homage to the museum’s honorees by exemplifying the women’s courage, ingenuity and resilience.

 Desert Rose Boutique offers apparel, home décor and gifts inspired by the West. Photos courtesy of Leslie Distler.
Desert Rose Boutique offers apparel, home décor and gifts inspired by the West. Photos courtesy of Leslie Distler.

“We try to carry apparel that’s appealing to women and gifts that have beautiful scenes on it that would remind them of strength or courage,” Distler said. “We also like to carry things that give people the power to know they can develop themselves into anything and be anyone that they want, and that women don’t have to be intimidated by being in a man’s world.”

Products include Native American jewelry, Dolly Parton- inspired tea towels, cowgirl dolls, Western-chic apparel (think cow prints and fringe) and even turquoise pocket knives. According to Distler, best-selling categories are Western apparel and jewelry, with gifts taking third.

“The interesting part is how popular the Western attire has [swept] the nation, just by utilizing the Western accessories — the boots, the belt, the hat or the turquoise jewelry,” she said. “It has grown into being a trend across the country to have a little bit of Western thrown into any look. That’s been exciting because it has helped people relate to our culture.”

When sourcing items for Desert Rose, Distler focuses on two things: uniqueness and local artists. She also takes care to provide products at a variety of price points so that each visitor can take something home with them.

While Desert Rose rounds out the National Cowgirl Museum experience, its ultimate goal, it has evolved in recent years to become a go-to gift shop for locals, as well.

“People think about Desert Rose as a place to just purchase Western items, but it’s grown into people coming in to find things for a wedding or for their vacations, along with that Western attire that we so proudly represent,” Distler said. “Fort Worth is not just cowboys and cowgirls, it’s modern people. So it’s nice to be able to hit a lot of categories for people’s closets, homes and gifts.”

Desert Rose switches out its displays and merchandise frequently to keep the shopping experience fresh for visitors. Distler partakes in seasonal buying to continually introduce new items that are reflective of the time of year and prevent the shop from feeling stagnant.

“The gift shop is forever changing. That’s the fun part,” she said. “It is about the experience of the museum. There’s history, there’s fun, there’s power — and then there’s a shopping experience.”

Carly McFadden

Carly McFadden is the editorial director of Gift Shop Plus, Stationery Trends and Lawn & Garden Retailer.

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