On Sept. 11, 2009, a little shop in downtown Corvallis opened its doors for the first time. Joyelle Petersen and Nikki Marshall had been helping outfit their friends and family for a while before they finally decided that it would be great to do it full time. They opened the Cosmic Chameleon, a small boutique on 2nd Street that sells both vintage items and a small potion of consignment, clothes, shoes, and accessories. Joyelle and Nikki love to find people clothes that fit perfectly and make a statement about who you are, under one condition: you have to be nice to your body.
With a motto based off of the changing colors of a chameleon—“Forever Changing. Forever You.”—you know this is going to be a fun store before you even walk through the door. Once you do pass though that door, however, you find a world all of its own. The owners affectionately call being in their store “interactive shopping.” Rack upon rack of beautiful and unique clothing line the walls, as well as all the shoes, purses, and jewelry a girl could ask for. When I arrived for the interview, I was pretty sure I had just stepped foot into my own personal paradise. I’m a shoe girl personally, and I was definitely drawn to a pair of sparkly red pumps that were simply calling my name. But they don’t just sell girl clothes, there are treasures just for men here too, as well as kids’ clothes and awesome costumes!Halloween is their busiest time of year, and I could see why. They had a huge trunk filled to the brim with every costume imaginable, both vintage and modern, and the fun didn’t stop there. Almost all of the clothes in the shop could be used to don a new personality, and the wearer would be the life of the party.
What is even more fun about the store is that both Joyelle and Nikki are working moms, and they are completely kid-friendly. In fact, their own daughters get to come to work with them all the time, which they say is one of the best parts of owning their own business. This aspect of their business helps them connect with people from all walks of life. There is no such thing as “Don’t touch that!” in this store. Families can feel comfortable bringing children into the store without having to worry that they might break something! Another favorite part of the job for both women is when they get to go shopping, or as they call it, treasure hunting. It’s always a challenge to not over-shop to stock the store, but I was no stranger to that challenge. With so many unique pieces in the store, I wanted to partake in a little over-shopping myself, especially those sparkly red pumps!
As you may have already realized, this isn’t just any vintage boutique. The Cosmic Chameleon is open to everyone, and their goal is to make sure that everyone who comes into the store is happy and feels good about themselves when they leave, even if all you need is a place to rest your feet or just browse. They also have some pretty cool services to offer, such as in-store credit trades and wish lists. Looking for that perfect skirt to match your equally perfect top? Just let Joyelle and Nikki know, and as they are out shopping for the store they will look for your item, too. “And we’re pretty good at actually finding it!” Joyelle says.
I definitely had some favorite items in the store picked out already (thank heaven I left my wallet in my car), but when I asked them, favorites included vintage costumes, up-cycled apparel (a piece of clothing that a customer buys, then redesigns and brings back), and “anything unique and funky!” Nikki added.
The Cosmic Chameleon also donates to local charities. Donations are made to the Men’s Prison Program, Heartland Humane Society, and other non-profits that need a helping hand. They also do occasional fundraisers for community members in need, like those with illnesses or going through hard times. Every day, local artists sell items on consignment in the shop. Feather earrings, hairpieces, and purses are just some of the local artwork that is sold. Joyelle and Nikki feel like it brings a sense of community to the store that just adds to the experience and environment.
On my way out of the store, I reflected on the warm vibe I received during my time there, and how that type of environment is exactly the type I would want to do my shopping in. The open attitude and friendliness of Joyelle and Nikki shines through in every aspect of their shop. I feel like I will be spending a lot more of my shopping time at the Cosmic Chameleon!