By DIEGO JESUS BARTESAGHI MENA
American Sampler is closing its doors at the end of 2021, after more than 40 years of business on Church Street in Montclair.
Pam Lamoglia, who co-owns the store with husband William, said it was time for the couple to retire (though she’ll continue operating her clothing store, Dobbs Limited, next door to American Sampler).
“It’s given us a great deal of pleasure, but it’s time to go. We are not getting any younger,” Lamoglia said.
Lamoglia said the idea of opening the store came about when friends and family would visit her home. They were fascinated by the furniture and antiques she had been collecting over the years.
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“So, what happened was that I sold a whole bunch of stuff out of my house, and then I said: ‘You know what, I’m just going to open a store.’ And that’s how it happened,” Lamoglia said. “We brought in antiques and reproductions and all of kinds of things that we loved, and we’ve been successful for over 40 years,”
Lamoglia said she opened the store in 1981 with only $3,000.
Someone looking to decorate a home could find a lot at American Sampler. There are large wooden cabinets and desks. Small Christmas ornaments. Frames and art. Hutches. Knicknacks. Plenty of treasures of all sizes. And even though the store might look like it only carries antiques, Lamoglia said it has new items as well.
“It’s a lot of decorating and personal help that we give to the customers,” Lamoglia said. “So, myself, my staff, my husband and my manager, Christopher, we have all really helped people, and still do. We just finished a couple of houses where we did decorate them.”
Church Street was different when American Sampler first opened 40 years ago, Lamoglia said. She said the street had a more diverse selection of retail stores and fewer restaurants.
“We used to have a toy store and a leather goods store and things that I thought added to the street,” Lamoglia said. “And now it just seems as if it’s a little less interesting. But still, in all, it’s Church Street. It’s a famous street in town. It’s a famous street in the whole area and people like to come here.”
Lamoglia has several good memories of the store, and the community. She said Christmas has always been great due to the selection of ornaments, trees and decorations on hand.
“We have one gentleman who bought a Santa every year for his house,” Lamoglia said. “And then people come in every year for ornaments and decorations. Everybody’s saying they’re going to miss that because we’ve always carried really unique decorations, not the kind of junky stuff you could find everywhere. And so, for me, the memories of Christmas, where everybody’s happy and everybody’s looking forward to the season, I think those are the best memories.”
The store also had its share of celebrity guests throughout the years.
Lamoglia said Madonna came by a few years ago. Singer Dionne Warwick (who grew up in nearby Orange) and the late Olympia Dukakis (who lived in Montclair for three decades) visited as well.
“All the soap opera stars that lived in Montclair would come in, like Kim Zimmer [from the CBS soap opera ‘Guiding Light’],” Lamoglia said. “So, a lot of people have come in that have been kind of famous in the area.”
Last year’s onset of the coronavirus pandemic, and the shutdowns prompted by it, affected the store, she said.
“It was just really heartbreaking,” Lamoglia said. “My husband and I are of an age where we have been through a lot and we never ever remember anything that devastating.”
But the eventual reopening, as restrictions slowly loosened, was a relief. Lamoglia said business was slow at first, but eventually got better. Still, the pandemic played a role in the decision to retire.
“We’ve been talking about [retirement] for a long time and when [the pandemic] happened, my husband and I kind of said: ‘You know, maybe it’s time. There is so much that is going on in the work and maybe it’s time for us to sit back and enjoy ourselves a little more, you know?’” Lamoglia said.
She said the store will remain open until the end of the year. Everything is on sale, and she hopes most items will be gone by then.
“I’m going to miss all the people that have come in, that we’ve worked with and that we’ve actually gotten to know and fallen in love with. We’ll miss what we do and we’ll miss the people. It’s going to leave a void in our lives but I kind of think life goes in cycles. So, this is a new cycle for us,” Lamoglia said. “I hope everyone will come in, and even if they don’t want to buy, just come in and say ‘goodbye’ — but come in, because we’re literally giving this stuff away. So, come on in, bargain, and let’s say ‘goodbye’ and celebrate.”