After the rain comes the rainbow, Late Bloomer Vintage


Entrance to Late Bloomer Vintage Boutique. Photo taken by Gabriela Rudolph on March 16.

With all the gloomy rain and bare nature in Chico, color is scarce. Luckily, an eccentric oasis exists between Tender Loving Coffee and the Pageant Theatre on E Sixth St. — Late Bloomer Vintage Boutique

The boutique is open Thursday through Sunday. On Fridays, there is a student discount for 10% off and also late night hours from 11 a.m. to 11 p.m.

I came to the shop on a wet Sunday afternoon to escape the weather and browse some potential new vintage pieces to add to my closet. As I approached the shop, I was instantly reeled in by a rack of clothes outside. A metallic Justice jacket immediately caught my eye. Part of me laughed, knowing that my ten-year-old self would have begged my mom to buy me that. Of course, it was not my size.

My hands raked through various pieces, giving me just a mere taste of what was indoors. 

I entered the boutique and was surrounded by vintage galore and vibrant decor. The walls were painted different colors in each section with a myriad of art pieces and record covers adorning them. 

The owner of the store, Ava Moon, greeted me. I learned that Moon opened the boutique in October 2022, however she has been living in Chico for almost her entire life. She moved here when she was 2-years-old and got her bachelor’s degree in communication design at Chico State. During her time as a Chico State student, she was involved in The Orion as a videographer.

Moon said that she used to sell art at pop-ups and festivals, however clothes were always her biggest seller.

“I started selling vintage more seriously after the pandemic,” Moon said. “I had a young baby and couldn’t get a regular job.”

On the floor, I noticed piles of clothes in baskets and suitcases. Moon told me that those clothes were part of the monthly fill-a-bag sale and that I could fill up a bag for $20. I grabbed a plastic bag on a barber chair, and went digging. It didn’t take too long until my bag was full. I had to sacrifice some pieces that didn’t fit in the bag. My haul included a Brandy Melville sweater, an Abrecombie & Fitch tank top, a denim dress with a red floral skirt and more. All of that for $20 was definitely a steal.

I ventured deeper into the store, walking through beaded curtains to the record area, which had a large window overlooking the street. The records were $2 each, or three for $5. To the right of the records, there was a couch with a multi-colored tapestry draped behind it. Beside that, there was a botanical wall with a neon sign spelling out “Late Bloomer.” If anything was Instagram-worthy, it would be this part of the boutique.

Couch with tapestry and neon sign in the record room. Photo taken by Gabriela Rudolph on March 16.

In another section, there was a fabric push-pin board with a variety of buttons, all of which were $5. I ended up sitting there and giggling at a couple. One of them read “Protect & Preserve Mainstream Dancers, An Endangered Species.” There were also baskets of graphic tees that were $10 each. 

Across the store, there was a bookcase filled with miscellaneous things like jewelry, books, home decor and bags. I found copies of “The Lord of the Rings” trilogy from 1969 and gawked at the gorgeous cover, but I knew that a J.R.R. Tolkien fan would appreciate it more than me so I put it back on the shelf.

Once I gathered a couple items to try on, I made my way to the fitting room, and was transported into a funky, miniature bedroom. A tiny bed was fitted with a unicorn quilt and a green lava lamp sat on the nightstand. Each inch of the fitting room was decorated with bright colors, knick-knacks and textures. 

Colorful fitting room in Late Bloomer Vintage Boutique. Photo taken by Gabriela Rudolph on March 16.

Paying for my clothes at the cashier, I noticed stickers and small prints from local artists. Moon said that it’s constantly changing and there’s always something new.

Underneath the cash register were ’90s and y2k toys in a glass case: troll dolls, a Lisa Frank stencil and a Chuck-E-Cheese lunch pale. The vintage toys didn’t end there. In the back right corner of the store, the highest shelves were lined with nostalgic toys and games. Seeing SpongeBob and Patrick made me feel like a kid again.

I appreciated the store’s organization. Whether you’re specifically searching for a dress, leather jacket, lingerie or denim there is a designated section for you. As a thrifter, who typically shops in more traditional thrift stores like Goodwill or Salvation Army, it’s nice to shop in a store that doesn’t smell like a dusty granny house, or have clothes cluttered all over the floor.

I ended my shopping trip with a few more statement pieces to add to my wardrobe, and excitement for what other fun treasures I’ll find next time.

“My shop is different because it’s not just a store, it’s a living work of art,” Moon said. “It’s a revolving door of wonder for customers to come in and have a new experience every time.”

Moon is planning to launch a Shopify website on April 1 to expand her vintage clothes to a wider audience.

Occasionally, Moon will host events at her boutique like karaoke and stick-and-poke tattoos. On Feb. 10, she hosted a collage workshop where she donated proceeds to Safe Space Winter Shelter.

To keep up to date with upcoming promotions and events, follow their Instagram page @late_bloomr_vintage.

Gabriela Rudolph can be reached at [email protected].