The first day I breezed into Wanderer in Taos is a day I remember well. My boyfriend and I had driven north to enjoy the mountain roads and lunch in a different space. It was spring 2016 and the weather was unseasonably warm.
The shop's sign, featuring its name printed on a rose quartz-colored arrowhead, stands out in a way that hints there's something different inside this adobe boutique. And there is. It's curated with current, affordable pieces and accessories, and has an apothecary section packed with natural cosmetics and skin care products.
Wanderer is the brainchild of owner Ashley Arabian, who moved to Taos in the spring of last year. "It's still pretty new," Arabian tells SFR. "I only moved here a month before I opened the store. It's right here in the middle of town and everybody who drives by can see it. … It's a really sweet place to be."
Minimalist racks made of pipes and raw wood line the outer edge of the elongated space. Bright textile shoulder bags hang sparsely on the walls and windows bathe the long center accessory-table in natural light. You'll find brands like Amuse Society (amusesociety.com), XIX Palms (xixpalms.com), Stillwater (still waterthebrand.com) and Camp Collection (shopcamp.com). Part of what makes this shop so attractive is that you can find a piece you just saw on your favorite blogger or (ugh I'm going to say it) it-girl on Instagram.
Shopping is somewhat about camaraderie: you feel closer to someone you want to emulate when you have the same handbag. And it's definitely about feeling good. There's a reason buying that pair of printed platforms you've been eyeing is synonymous with the ethos "Treat yo'self."
When you embark on a retail adventure, you want a nice experience. However, I am sure most shoppers can relate to being bummed out in a shop. We have expectations, and maybe dreams of being able to ask the employees questions like, "Is this cute?" as we try something on. Or, in the least, we want a friendly smile from the shop guy or gal. Unfortunately, this is most often not my experience shopping in Santa Fe.
Of course, there are exceptions, but there are also those establishments that solidify this rule. And Santa Fe Dry Goods recently was one of them. I happened in the nosebleed-high priced shop a few weeks ago and was essentially chased out by the woman working there who stayed (not exaggerating) at most six steps from me as I browsed.
I thought she may faint when I pawed a designer bag with a triple-digit pricetag. I mean, Woman-Who-Works-at-Dry-Goods, I feel you. I nearly fainted at that price myself, and truly I was just shiny-thing'ed and had no intention of paying more than I make in two months for it. But does that mean I should be hawked and made to feel really uncomfortable, so much so that I make a quick exit? Can't a gal appreciate a pretty thing?
Arabian thinks so, and that makes me more willing to spend in her store, in a place I feel welcome. "A lot of stores have that Pretty Woman syndrome—you walk in and they're like, 'This girl can't afford this stuff, I'm not going to talk to her,'" Arabian says. "And that's bullshit. You should treat everyone with respect either way."
Cost plays a role in Arabian's inventory choices. "People want to shop on-trend and to do it affordably. I don't want to spend too much on my clothes," she says. "I dress pretty simply when it comes down to it." She wears a vintage rock tee, skinny jeans and black boots to our interview and looks like an effortless rocker-muse. Her shop has simple jewelry and tees in the $30 range and tons of goodies—from clay face masks, bath salts with lavender flowers, natural highlighters and more—in the apothecary section for less than $20, as well as bodysuits and blouses under $60.
Heading to Taos for some retail R&R really is a lovely escape, but you'll soon be able to find Wanderer other places too. In July, an Albuquerque location is slated to open in the Sawmill District just north of Old Town. And Arabian has put her knack for interior design to work at Hotel Luna Mystica (25 ABC Mesa Road, El Prado, 512-789-1587), a vintage trailer hotel, which opened during Music on the Mesa last weekend complete with her immaculate modern Southwest Bohemian touch.
When it comes to summer trends, Arabian leaves me with a parting tip that cements her style-sage status. "I always have maxi dresses in here because they work on all shapes and sizes. They're super comfortable and they work well in the heat without revealing too much," she says. And then, naming my favorite item she had that day, she says, "I have a mustard crocheted dress I really like and I want to get more stuff like that in here."
11 am-6 pm Monday and Wednesday-Saturday; Noon-5 pm Sunday.
110 Paseo del Pueblo Norte, Taos,