Your Neighbor: Meet Claire Wait
By Mandy Haggerson
For the Clemmons Courier
Wife, stay at home mom, counselor, teacher, First Lady of Clemmons, and now entrepreneur. This past January, Claire Wait added another job title to her growing resumé when she opened Chameleon Kids Consignment right here in Clemmons.
Wait predominantly grew up in Spokane, Washington. But when she graduated from Baylor University in 2003 with a teaching license and very few job prospects, she found herself driving from the West Coast to the East Coast to spend a year living with at-risk teenagers in a wilderness camp environment.
This is where she met John Wait, her future husband. The two were married less than a year later, and moved to Greensboro where Claire taught high school English. In just four years the couple had two children, a law degree for John, and an itch for something new. After weighing the cost of daycare versus her North Carolina teacher salary, they moved to Clemmons where John opened his own law practice while Claire stayed home to raise their kids.
“It was one of the most difficult years of my life. Financially. Socially. Here I was, stuck at home with two little ones, no family in town, no friends, and I was taking on an entirely different identity. One,” she adds, “That I wasn’t exactly sure I liked at first.” Now, almost 10 years later, Wait says she couldn’t be happier. It turns out Clemmons was the best thing they ever did for their family, which now includes four children from ages 13, 10, 7, and 5.
Wait entered the preschool consignment circuit several years ago and quickly fell in love with the idea of buying things used, connecting with other moms, and making a little bit of money on the side. “I knew almost immediately that this was something I could do. Like, for real. The dream of opening my own consignment shop has been something I’ve been designing in my head for nearly five years.”
Her store, Chameleon Kids Consignment, is located across from Pie Guys Pizza in the Kinnamon Village Commons shopping center off Kinnamon Road. In it, she sells children’s clothing, shoes, toys, baby gear, and nursery furniture. She also has a growing section of maternity and nursing outfits. “My very first vision for this store had nothing to do with actual commerce, and everything to do with creating a space that would allow moms a kid-friendly outlet. Seriously. Mom-to-mom connections have been my lifeline over the last 10 years. And my store is absolutely a place where this is happening. The money saving is a bonus.”
The COVID-19 pandemic hit when the store had barely been open a month. “I found myself looking at this beautiful but now empty space, and realized I needed a new plan.” With help from her daughter Eliott, Wait unrolled an online sales platform in approximately 17 hours. She amped up her social media presence and began doing Facebook Live sales as well as curbside pick up for online orders. Wait utilized Facebook and Instagram for Chameleon Kids Consignment to preview all of her best items as soon as they hit the sales floor. “Social media is so effective. It was a great way to showcase giveaways, some mom-jokes, and other fun things happening online too,” reflects Wait. “The community rallied. To think that after just four short weeks of being open, we were forced to close and yet continue to pay our bills? It is maybe a little bit of a miracle, but also another testimony to just how fantastic this community is.”
That said, like many small business owners in our area, Wait was relieved that Chameleon Kids is now physically open again, even if it’s under limited hours. The busy working mom and stay-at-home teacher now is finishing up the school year with four children at home. Wait enjoys working in her store Tuesday through Friday from 1-5 p.m., and Saturdays from 10 a.m.- 3 p.m. Wait reflects, “Online sales are still going strong through the website, https://chameleonkidsconsignment.com, and I am taking new consignment by appointment, also available online. Things are going well.”
Our neighbor has discovered that she is able to persevere even when things don’t go exactly as planned. Wait demonstrated that the difference between stumbling blocks and stepping-stones is how you use them.