Shopping at Palm Springs Attractions

Second in a Series: The Palm Springs Aerial Tramway

Posted By: Barbara Beckley Monday, June 13, 2016

Surprise! Palm Springs most famous attraction --- the celebrated Palm Springs Aerial Tramway – is also a treasure trove of shopping opportunities.

Two great gift shops – one at the Valley Station (the mountain base where you buy your tickets) and one at the sky high Mountain Station two and a half miles above the valley floor – are packed with fabulous finds for everyone including celebrities.

When actress Glenn Close rode the tram last Thanksgiving, she bought the crazy-cute rattlesnake pitcher, Greg Purdy, tram public affairs manager, told me. “Her kids were so enamored by the merchandise, their hired car had to wait 30 minutes while they shopped,” he confided.

“We buy cute,” says Shosh Plentl-Hotz, retail vice president, who has worked at the tram for 21 years. And so she does: from fine art and jewelry to home décor, kitchenware, trendy apparel with and without the name-dropped tram logo, tropical sarongs, souvenir keepsakes and even nostalgia decor. Remember those drip candles in a wine bottle from the ‘60s?  They’re here. And selling like hot cakes, she says. Prices vary dramatically. You can drop a cool 99 cents on a neon pencil with the tram logo. Or invest $650 in a handcrafted sterling silver and turquoise bracelet.  

“People call us to buy things by mail order they saw and regret not buying,” Plentl-Hotz told me.   

If you’re a Native American art enthusiast, the tram shops are must. They obtain unique and authentic items direct from Native American artists throughout the Southwest. To prove authenticity, each piece carries a census tag with the name of the Native American artisan, Plentl-Hotz explained. A one-of-a-kind War Shirt recently sold for $960.

What are the top favorites? “Everything sells,” says Plentl-Hotz. “We listen to our customers and stock what they like.” Cute dog and cat signs, lots and lots of jewelry, fashionable resort-style dresses and tops. “We sell a ton of rocks,” she said. If you’re looking for kissing biker salt and pepper shakers – this is the place. The biker shakes are among the top 10 sellers. 

The best in mountain gear is also plentiful. In case you’ve forgotten to bring it – or didn’t realize the weather really is different at the top. The temperature is typically 30 to 40 degrees cooler than on the valley floor. Hiking sticks, lanterns, smart-looking backpacks, gloves, mini binoculars. Women’s trendy hiking shorts and pants are hot sellers along with hoodies and hats.

And sleds!  Plentl-Hotz says they sold more than 1,000 sleds last winter. Perfect for the snowy fun which typically runs November through May in Mount San Jacinto State Park. Emergency kits are on hand, too. The Don’t Die Out There booklet is a best seller at $7.95. People buy this practical packet of hiking survival cards to use wherever they hike, says Plentl-Hotz.

Rental gear is also available at the tram shops. Cross country skis, poles, snow shoes and Yaktrax to put on your shoes for added traction are at the ready for winter fun.  

So the next time you spin your way up Palm Springs’ revolving tram, know that there’s the excitement of retail adventure -- along with incredible views, mountain majesty and fine dining. And while it may be summer now – the holidays are around the corner. Yes. The locals holiday shop here, Purdy says.