Babes Ride Out

Pioneering Woman of Joshua Tree | Meet Pioneertown General Store Owner Sarah Tabbush

PeopleAshmore Ellis

One of our favorite things is highlighting people who live in the communities we call home. Joshua Tree is filled with vintage shops, art studios, adventure tours, restaurants, all owned and operated by some of the most kind hearted ladies in the world. We encourage you to take time and read about these women (and visit their establishments while at Babes 6) who've created a life and own amazing businesses just a few miles from where you'll be camping. Introducing our newest content series, Pioneering Women, that specifically highlights these ladies and what they do to make Joshua Tree one of the most unique and welcoming towns we've ever been to. Meet Sarah Tabbush, owner & manager of 2 local retail shops: Pioneertown General Store and The Mother Lode Antiques (proud to be taking this over from the current female owner who has been there for over 30 years)!

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Where are you originally from? Los Angeles, CA

What brought you out to Joshua Tree, CA?

I grew up coming to the desert for vacation and I’ve always loved it. About 4 years ago I bought a home in Pioneertown and figured I’d retire here one day. I don’t think I spent one weekend away since then! I finally left my corporate job in LA, started my business and moved out here full-time a couple of years ago.

What is your favorite part about living in the desert?

There is something really beautiful and intriguing about a landscape that is constantly trying to kill you… cacti, joshua trees and mesquite trees have serious thorns; rattlesnakes,  scorpions, and tarantulas are everywhere; the summers are very hot and the winters are windy and cold. Access to typical city conveniences is limited. Despite all of that, and partly because of it, this place has magic in the air. I look at the harsh elements as an initiation of sorts. If you make it through all of that, you’re gonna be here for a while.

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Tell us about your business (what you do, day to day, it’s purpose, etc.)

I have owned the Pioneertown General Store for about 2 years now, selling vintage clothes and locally made apothecary and gifts. Everything in the store comes with a story and its own energy, which is why I am so drawn to old things. I spend mornings sourcing clothes at thrift store and garage sales and working on my website. I work in the store most days from 11-6, alternating between the Pioneertown General Store and The Mother Lode Antiques.

I am taking over ownership of The Mother Lode Antiques in old town Yucca Valley as of January 1. I’m extremely excited and humbled by this endeavor. About 8 months ago I was approached by the current owner (Nicky) who is looking to retire after more than 30 years doing antiques in this area. As part of the transition she has been teaching me how to date and value older pieces, how to refinish antiques, and lots of other trade secrets. I am grateful to be carrying on her legacy.

What is it like to run your own business?

I’m very grateful to own 2 businesses in the desert along with so many other amazing women. Most of the businesses around here are women-owned and it’s been that way long before I ever set foot in the sand. I would go so far as to say we live in a matriarchal society out here in many ways. We work hard to help each other out-- we chip in to help another business owner remodel her space, we support our local makers by buying and selling their goods, we promote each other, and at the end of a busy weekend we all have dinner together at Pappy’s.  It’s certainly not competitive.

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Tell us about any moments of clarity while operating your own business. This can include triumphs and struggles and how you cope/learn / celebrate them:

Do you. If you try to run a business to appease a certain subset of the population it will never be as successful as following your personal passions.

What do you have planned for the future?

The Mother Lode Antiques is a huge endeavor for me for the rest of the year.  I will officially take over full ownership January 1, and I plan to do some remodeling before then. Ripping up carpet, sanding concrete floors, painting walls, etc. And lots and lots of buying to fill the store!

Tell us a fun fact about Joshua Tree that most people wouldn’t know:

Okay here’s one a few about Pioneertown and one about Joshua Tree/s…

Pioneertown was built as a movie set for many of the black and white western films in the 40’s/50’s. A few of the famous films from our area are: Judge Roy Bean, Cisco Kid, The Gene Autry Show, and Annie Oakley. The town was founded by Dick Curtis, Roy Rogers, Dale Evans and Russell Hayden.  The name “Pioneertown” comes from the band of which many of these films stars were in, called “Sons of Pioneers.”

The name Joshua tree was given by a group of Mormon settlers who crossed the Mojave Desert in the mid-19th century. The tree's unique shape reminded them of a Biblical story in which Joshua reaches his hands up to the sky in prayer. Legend has it that these pioneers named the tree after the biblical figure, Joshua, seeing the limbs of the tree as outstretched in supplication, guiding the travelers westward.

Any recommendations of points of interest (shops, restaurants, geological sites, anything outstanding) you’d recommend to ladies traveling to Babes Ride Out 6?

Idylwild is a great ride, one of my favorites. It’s about 20 degrees cooler up that mountain though so dress accordingly!

The Integratron in Landers is 38 ft tall dome structure with a diameter of 55 ft designed by Ufologist and Contactee George Van Tassel. Van Tassel claimed the Integratron was capable of rejuvenation, anti-gravity and time travel. It’s located where multiple vortexes and aquifers converge, making the energy pretty magical.

If you’re looking for something local and chill, ride through Pipes Canyon to Pappy and Harriets- our local honky-tonk. Great BBQ and cold beers (I personally show up for the tequila). As you walk down Mane street you’ll see the old western movie sets which are now private homes and stores. The Goat Soaps bring their adorable goats on weekends, not to be missed. The Pioneertown General Store is on Mane Street, too so come say hi!

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