Spotlight on the Charming Vintage Shop Dazzles
Meet the Owner, Mike Sauls
By Barbara Beckley
It should come as no surprise that Mike Sauls was born in New Orleans – given the cheery “Hi there! How are you doing today,” he says to everyone who enters his vintage wonderland.
Sitting behind the counter of the “Beauty Bar,” an exquisite cosmetic counter, which originally graced the I. Magnin department store in San Francisco, Mike, along with his friend Keith Burke, preside over Dazzles – one of Palm Springs original vintage boutiques with easily the valley’s most diverse collection of old school treasures.
“We’re often described as a ‘vintage department store,’ Mike likes to say. “Because we have everything from the 1960s and ‘70s -- glass work, Bakelite jewelry, ‘70s pottery, pop art, ceramics, tiki, rattan, patio furnishings, you name it. Jewelry is a big thing.” The Beauty Bar showcases arguably the largest and finest collection of authentic vintage jewelry in the desert.
So who is the man behind the Beauty Bar? After Mike’s New Orleans beginnings come the surprises. “I grew up with David Hasselhoff in Jacksonville, Florida. Our families were neighbors and friends. We played together all the time.” Mike vividly recalls playing ‘gladiator’ with David, when “David accidentally hit me in the face with a small rock. Mom was horrified, but it wasn’t anything major.”
Fast forward to the 1980s and Mike is living in Hollywood – where – and this is totally true –he was sunning on Santa Monica Beach one day, when a couple came up and asked, “Would you like to model?” Turns out they were major talent agents.
Mike was good at it. He appeared in magazines –including the cover of Men’s World Daily – throughout the early ‘80s. But being an artist (his university degree is in art), “I loved Art Deco and antiques and really wanted to open a shop.” So in 1981, the first Dazzles was born -- at Highland Avenue and Sunset Boulevard in Hollywood, and later on Ventura Boulevard in the San Fernando Valley.
From the beginning, Mike’s keen eye – brought success. Set designers and stars including Faye Dunaway, Barbra Streisand’s personal assistant, Catherine Deneuve, Elizabeth Montgomery, Ricky Nelson’s mom (Harriet Nelson), Lonnie Anderson and Burt Reynolds were regulars. Lonnie commissioned Mike to provide the jewelry (vintage) for her marriage to Burt.
His eye for art extended to houses as well – which led to Palm Springs. With his modeling success, Mike was buying, redoing and selling homes in the Hollywood Hills, Benedict Canyon and Beverly Hills. In late 1998 he was looking for his next house in LA, when he and a friend spent a few days in Palm Springs.
“Let’s look at real estate here,” his friend suggested. Well, that was that! Mike bought his first Alexander a few days later, moved Dazzles to Palm Springs shortly thereafter, and never looked back.
Mid-century wasn’t big then, in 1998/99, Mike recalls. Dazzles and the Modern Way opened about the same time – pioneers in Palm Springs’ mid-century future.
Dazzles is celebrating 20 years in Palm Springs, and 17 years in its present location – a 1946 mid-century modern building, probably influenced by modernism master architect Albert Frey – in the Uptown Design District. “I’ve spoken to the daughter of the man who built my building,” Mike says, “and she remembers that her dad and Frey were best friends and exchanged architectural drawings on it.”
Celebrities continue to love Dazzles. “Cameron Diaz is so sweet,” he says. “She bought a few chairs, picked them up over her head and took them out to her car herself.” And the stunning retro glass bottles in the lobby of the Parker Palm Springs resort – all from Dazzles.
Why the name -- Dazzles? “I want to dazzle people with everything I offer,” Mike explains.
“I’m not in business for the money. I’d rather have something that people are happy with. I like to put out fun, colorful things that remind us of when we were little. I want people to stop and smell the roses. To go back to a simpler time like our grandparents and parents enjoyed, when things were made well.”
And oh yes. Mike continues to restore Palm Springs’ homes. Alan Ladd’s Las Palmas home, designed by famed modernist architect Donald Wexler, is one of his latest accomplishments.
1035 North Palm Canyon Drive, 760-327-1446
All Photos: Credit Barbara Beckley