This article covers the history of department stores and retail in Palm Springs, California, particularly in that city's downtown.

Palm Springs Plaza

Palm Springs Plaza, as it was then called, now La Plaza, opened November 1, 1936, one of the first shopping centers in Southern California with a single developer, owner and a uniform appearance, after Westwood Village (1929). It contained a parking garage on three levels with parking for 141 cars, the largest garage in Riverside County. Desmond's (department store) was an original anchor[1][2][3][4] and continued to operate until 2005.[5]

Resort stores

Bullock's, a large upscale department store on Broadway in Los Angeles, opened a Spanish Colonial-style "resort store" in the Desert Inn complex in 1930. I. Magnin followed, opening a resort store in the El Mirador resort on December 1, 1933,[6] closing when that resort was turned into a military hospital in 1942.[7] When Bullock's opened a full department store at 151 Palm Canyon Drive in 1947, J. W. Robinson's, another large L.A. store, took the former Bullock's location and opened its own resort store there.[8]

Full-line and specialty department stores

After La Plaza was built, additional junior and full-line department stores started to be established on Palm Canyon Drive immediately adjacent to La Plaza. Bullock's/Bullocks Wilshire (#151, 1947–1990), J. W. Robinson's (#333, 1958–1987),[9][10][11] and Saks Fifth Avenue (opened October 16, 1959 at No. 490),[12] forming a large shopping district. In 1967 the Desert Fashion Plaza mall was built, I. Magnin opened there (closed 1992)[13] and Saks closed its previous location and moved into a new larger store in the mall. Joseph Magnin Co. opened a 26,000 square foot department store in the mall in 1969,[14] meaning that together with a Sears at 611 Palm Canyon Dr., for two decades, downtown boasted seven department stores, plus the Palm Springs Mall 1.5 miles to the east operating from 1959 to 2005.


  1. ^ "Plaza Opens with Ceremonies Sunday". Desert Sun (Palm Springs, CA). October 30, 1936.
  2. ^ "Palm Springs Plaza under construction". Desert Sun (Palm Springs, CA). February 14, 1936.
  3. ^ "Begin Monday on 36 shops in Plaza Project". Desert Sun (Palm Springs, CA). July 10, 1936.
  4. ^ "Power Company Publicizes Village". Desert Sun (Pam Springs, CA). December 11, 1936.
  5. ^ Hirsh, Lou (February 6, 2005). "Desmond's to Close?". Desert Sun (Palm Springs, CA).
  6. ^ "I. Magnin & Co. to Open Twelfth Branch". San Francisco Examiner. November 8, 1933. p. 25.
  7. ^ Brown, Renee (September 25, 2015). "History: Torney general hospital's contribution in WWII". The Desert Sun. Palm Springs.
  8. ^ "Bullock's New Palm Springs Shop Cheerful", Los Angeles Times, 21 Nov 1930, p. 40 (part II, p. 20)
  9. ^ Murphy, Gavin (October 28, 1988). "World Market Plan Dies". Desert Sun (Palm Springs, CA).
  10. ^ "Robinson's celebrating 75th anniversary", Desert Sun(Palm Springs, CA), January 9, 1958
  11. ^ Murphy, Gary (March 6, 1992). "Merchants bemoan loss in Palm Springs of I. Magnin Store". Desert Sun (Palm Springs, CA).
  12. ^ "Saks will open here tomorrow". Desert Sun (Palm Springs, CA). October 15, 1959.
  13. ^ "'New Era' Launched as I. Magnin Opens". The Desert Sun. Vol. 41, no. 62. 16 October 1967. Retrieved 27 December 2019.
  14. ^ "Ground Broken Today for New Major Store". The Desert Sun. Vol. 42, no. 183. 6 March 1969. Retrieved 27 December 2019.