LIVINGSTON, NJ — In recognition of the impact that SAMS Fine Men’s Clothing has had on the Livingston community over the last several decades, members of the Livingston Township Council, many of whom shopped at SAMS as early as the 1970s, honored co-owners Jeffrey and Maurice Cohen on Monday in the wake of their retirement and the store’s closing.
The Cohen cousins, who will officially close up shop on Oct. 20, expressed their gratitude to the community for recognizing the accomplishments of the longstanding business and for supporting them in their retirement.
“We never lost site of our most important asset: the human touch,” said Jeffrey as he reminisced on some memories, such as hosting "Santa Clause at SAMS" in the early days and other in-store events. “We leave town with fine memories and are proud of the years that we pitched in in the community.”
SAMS was founded in Newark in 1899 by the Cohens' grandfather, and moved to its present location in Livingston in 1968. According to a plaque issued on Monday by Mayor Ed Meinhardt, the business has been “an integral part of our community ever since.”
Maurice thanked his and Jeffrey’s fathers for “having the foresight to purchase SAMS in 1968,” at which time the clothing store sold boy scout uniforms, varsity jackets, women’s “unmentionables” and Levi’s. It later evolved into an upscale custom clothier in Livingston, where community members were extremely supportive, he added.
“Over the years, we’ve had lots of Livingston High School kids working for us,” said Maurice as he acknowledged the community. “It’s been fun having these kids stop by and visit in our final days.”
Individual proclamations were presented to Jeffrey and Maurice recognizing their “hard work, dedication and commitment to the betterment of the community.”
“This is a little bit of a bittersweet moment,” said Meinhardt, noting that both he and his son bought their bar mitzvah suits at SAMS. “I’ve had the pleasure of knowing Maurice and Jeff for many years. You are and always will be an institution in this town, and so we thank you and all the employees and all the family members who have participated along the way in this 119-year journey.”
On behalf of all residents of Livingston, Essex County and “probably the State of New Jersey as well,” Meinhardt thanked the Cohens for their “many contributions to the quality of life in the Township of Livingston.” Jeffrey and Maurice thanked their wives and children for their support over the years, and Maurice thanked Jeffrey for “sharing this adventure” with him.
Excel Physical Therapy—a franchise specializing in physical therapy treatment for those recovering from joint replacement, reconstructive and spinal surgeries—will move into the S. Livingston Avenue location when SAMS vacates.
The Cohen cousins will be honored once again at an upcoming Livingston Chamber of Commerce networking event being held in conjunction with Saint Barnabas Medical Center in recognition of Breast Cancer Awareness Month. Hot breakfast will be served at a cost of $10 for members and $15 for non-members on Thursday, Oct. 18 at 8 a.m. at Eppes Essen Deli & Restaurant in Livingston.