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Jack Cody takes one of many telephone calls in days heading up to Haslloween. He and his wife, Natalya, are co-owners of the costume shop in downtown Paducah. They design and create by hand the majority of the costumes in the shop, which they rent out to individuals. Halloween is an especially busy time of year, but so are other holidays such as Christmas and Easter. Jack and Natalya also outfit theater shows and have contributed to costumes on major motion pictures like "A League of Their Own."

Alter Egos

story by Anna Clare Spelman

Entering Creatures of Habit feels like coming into an enormous walk-in closet of an incredibly cool grandma.

A grandma who partied with Elvis, had a fondness for renaissance fairs and loved to collect jewelry and wigs. The shop even smells like grandma's basement, in the best way possible. It's the scent of nostalgia, mixed with the thrill of discovery.

You can be anything you want inside Creatures of Habit.

The shop, in Paducah for almost 30 years, is owned by a husband and wife team – Natalya and Jack Cody. Their 10-year-old son, Owen, who loves chess and can name facts about countries he has never been to, can often be found practicing his jazz piano on the keyboard in the front of the shop.

Avid collectors, Natalya and Jack  own half a million vintage pieces of clothing and accessories. Their belief in the importance of preserving history is something they strive to pass on to Owen.

They design and make most of the remaining costumes. With backgrounds in theater and fine art, they have no shortage of creativity. And while Jack and Natalya bought their first cell phone only two months ago, they are extremely knowledgeable about pop culture. Natalya can name multiple options of "Joker" or "Cinderella" costumes, depending on which movie her patron wants to emulate.

Jack says owning a costume shop tunes them into human nature and "the pulse of the nation." He knows what scares and what excites people. This year, people are so scared of clowns that the local TV station wanted to know if Creatures of Habit would pull clown costumes out of inventory, following in Target's footsteps.

Ultimately, the joy of costuming is in "becoming another character," says Jack. That is evident on customers' faces when they see themselves in the mirror:  a transformed princess, flapper, Elvis, Chewbacca and everything in between.


Kalyssa Sullivan, 5, leans against her Chewbacca-clad father, John Sullivan, 45, in the Creatures of Habit costume shop in Paducah. Halloween is just a few days away.


Debbie Turner tries on a sequined outfit to accompany her own blue wig for her Halloween Katy Perry costume. She wanted her boyfriend to see it, so she refrained from renting it from Creatures of Habit that day.


Jack checks for something in the shop's third-floor storage area . The shop has a hydraulic elevator that helps in moving costumes and objects from storage to the selling floor. Jack says they keep everything, because "you never know when you might get a request for something, like a World War II-era helmet with a dent in it, for example."


Busts of women align the top shelf of Creatures of Habit in Paducah. Natalya is particularly fond of a rare collection of wax mannequin heads.


Katherine Oliver, 12, enjoys the poofiness of her Cinderella princess dress and hopes for a Halloween as good as last year’s.


A mannequin dressed as a soldier looks out on Broadway Street from Creatures of Habit costume shop. The Codys collect mannequins and vintage apparel.


The window of Creatures of Habit costume shop is lit after hours. While Halloween is the Codys' busiest time, they also sell quite a few costumes for other holidays and create costumes for theater productions in Kentucky and elsewhere.


Jonathan Fiser watches while Natalya fastens a peace necklace as a final touch on the hippie costume of his daughter, Kalyn. The family has a yearly themed Halloween party, and her father assures her that she will win the kid's costume contest. Kalyn can't stop looking at her reflection, having trouble recognizing herself with pink hair.


Natalya talks about the Leonardo DiCaprio portrait she and her husband found at a yard sale and framed. They are fans of outsider art, and have another portrait by the same painter of Princess Diana in the shop's dressing room. They own half a million vintage items, some of which they find by driving past yard sales like the ones where they found these paintings.


Katherine Oliver looks around at the mass of costumes. She tried on a Cinderella costume for Halloween. Her mom, Crystal, thinks she was inspired to be a princess again after she dressed as one of the “Frozen” characters last year and a young trick-or-treater thought she was the real character.


Natalya cheks on her son, Owen, who fell asleep while watching a scary movie at home. He's an only child, and the family is very close.

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