Walking by the Kings Highway display windows of the The Summit Sampler shop without stopping in is a challenge. Getting out of the bright store without touching dozens of things is impossible.
Whatever your home decorating fancy -- antique, contemporary, glittery, or funky – The Summit Sampler has it. Wall décor and lamps, oversized furniture upholstered in leather, tweed, or prints, tables highly polished or distressed, or an affordably priced gift for a friend or yourself, it’s in stock here.
The Summit Sampler, a satellite of home furniture and accessories store in Union County, opened in Haddonfield in October 2011, barely a month after taking over the lease on a large space that had been held by the adjoining carpet store.
“We were in Summit for 12 years, where we were a destination place,” said Jan Martin, who operates the store with her son, Branden. Her husband, Dan, handles the paperwork end of the business.
“Retail overall has been challenging since 2008,” said Martin, who says she was lured to Haddonfield by Lisa Hurd, the outgoing retail coordinator of Partnership for Haddonfield, the borough's tax-funded business improvement district.
“She sought me out but I did the due diligence. I came and looked over Haddonfield. I did my homework. I came on weekends, on Mondays, on a few nights,” said Martin.
Last week, both Martins were rearranging a furniture layout in the front of the store, shuffling items around because a large piece had sold over the weekend. A professional photographer was standing by, to take a new shot for an ad the shop runs in Philadelphia Magazine. “We do a lot of our own advertising,” said Jan Martin.
Some of the biggest customer magnets are the window displays, changed frequently.
“In Summit, people on the street say we have the Macy’s windows of the area. Clients say they can’t wait for the next season to see what we’ve done, and some people have come in here to have photos taken in our furniture displays for their Christmas cards,” she said.
Martin said they were lured to the Kings Highway spot, smaller than the shop in Summit, by a rent break from the landlord and some subsidies from the Partnership for Haddonfield, including help with renovations. Summit received a payment of $1,220.09 in January from the PfH. It was listed as the fourth of eight payments.
One of the first things the Martins did was rip up wall-to-wall carpeting that had been installed by the earlier tenant. What was left was swirls of carpeting glue, with tooth marks from the glue spreader. Jan Martin said she scrubbed it and coated it, creating a clean and distinctive look that doesn’t clash or compete with any of the items for sale.
“You have to be practical when you open a shop like this. We’re not Raymour and Flanigan. We offer individual things and we rely on walk-by traffic. I’d love to have more of that,” she said.
On Monday last week, when some stores were closed, about a dozen would-be customers entered the shop in the pre-noon hour. Although she was dealing with an advertising photographer and some business contacts, Jan Martin offered each of the shoppers a cup of coffee and personal attention. “Sometimes clients just stop in to chat and then look around. Some of them have become our friends. I love that part of the business,” she said.
Unlike some other businesses, Summit Sampler is open seven days until at least 5 p.m. Martin said their proximity to the Haddonfield Running Company, just two storefronts away, brings a lot of foot traffic to the address.
Martin is planning to develop a line of upholstered furniture that will permit customers to choose their own styles of arms, pillows, backs, and fabric treatment for sofas and chairs. A workroom at the rear of the shop holds hundreds of fabric samples, all of them made in America.
“We have a price-point for everyone,” In addition to upholstered furniture, tables, benches, and sideboards, the shop has tables and baskets filled with books, linens, tableware and dining accessories like cork screws, notebooks, vases and dishes, jewelry, and even some greeting cards and scarves.
The Summit Sampler is at 119 Kings Highway East. The phone number is 429-4747.