LIVINGSTON, NJ – During the time when men wore three-piece suits with ascot ties and women’s silhouettes were still defined by the corset, Chaim Cohen was first peddling his fashion wares by pushcart in Newark as a precursor to what is known by today’s Livingston residents as SAMS Fine Men’s Clothing. After 119 years in business, the third generation of the family-owned anchor store is hanging up their hats and shuttering the doors at the end of October, to be replaced by Excel Physical Therapy.
Founded in 1899, the business remained in Newark until the riots of the late 60s necessitated a move to the less-volatile suburbs. In 1967, SAMS opened in its current South Livingston Avenue location, where it has remained a well-known fixture in the township for more than 50 years.
Although the store caters to high-end customers in search of designer brand suits, formalwear, sportswear and accessories, the closing reflects neither a dwindling of local clientele nor the inability of the brick-and-mortar mainstay to compete with online retailers.
Now slightly past standard retirement age, co-owners Jeffrey and Maurice Cohen, who inherited the business from their fathers, are simply looking to transition into the next stage of life. With children who have careers of their own outside the retail industry, the cousins are choosing to retire the family business.
Many town residents can’t recall a time where SAMS wasn’t a staple in their lives.
“My 26-year old son, who has Autism, insisted on going in to say goodbye to Oxsana, who used to help him in the kids’ department,” said resident Helen Goldner Engel. “He was hard to fit, as he was chubby because of his meds, and she was so patient with him. He told her that he was going to miss her and was very reminiscent of the attention she had given him.”
“I have lived in Livingston my whole life,” said Lisa Kent. “SAMS is a fixture. It’s going to be odd not seeing it in our town. What could possibly go there that will leave a legacy like SAMS?”
Although declining to comment further on the closing of their business, the Cohens confirmed that Excel Physical Therapy will move into their address, and expressed their confidence in the future success of this organization.
They noted that they feel good about handing the keys over to an organization they feel will provide a much-needed service to the community, and are confident that the new business will be an excellent fit and for Livingston.
Excel Physical Therapy—a franchise specializing in physical therapy treatment for those recovering from joint replacement, reconstructive and spinal surgeries—is already contracted to set up shop in the location when SAMS vacates.
The retirement sale at SAMS is already in full swing, giving customers the opportunity to take advantage of deeply discounted inventory during the store’s liquidation sale.
For store hours and updates, visit www.samsclothing.com.