Missing Piece, a popular local business that has served Nazareth for over 15 years, is retiring from its brick-and-mortar store located at 462 Bushkill Center Rd. in Nazareth, and opting to continue to sell products online only.
The transition will take place on Oct. 1, 2021, which will allow Missing Piece’s faithful customers to continue to shop for the items they love on the business’s new website, missingpiecegiftshop.com. This website will not be fully launched until October.
Karen Sampson, owner of Missing Piece, remembers the first time she and her husband, Rick, co-owner, ever stepped foot into the building.
“When I was 12 years old, I knew I was going to own a business and it was going to be called Missing Piece. I even envisioned this building, but I’m from Emmaus so I shouldn’t have known or been envisioning anything in Nazareth. Then my position at Crayola was eliminated after 16 years, and someone at Crayola told my husband that this place was for sale. As soon as I walked in, I knew I was here before. I asked the owner if this place was for sale and the owner said no. We considered renting a space, but I just couldn’t do it. I got a job at the Lehigh Valley Hospital and ran all the gift shops doing keynote speaking about decorating and stuff like that. During this time, I put together a party for a friend of mine and told her she had to get rid of her lamp shades, they were ugly, so we went out to get new ones and she drove me here, back to this building, and I couldn’t believe it. I went up to the owner and said, ‘You probably don’t remember me, but I came in three years ago and wanted to buy this place,’ and she said, ‘Well today is your lucky day because we are selling it,’” says Karen.
Missing Piece sells all kinds of home décor, holiday items, purses, jewelry, and other fashion pieces, with an eclectic mix of specialty items as well. Winning multiple awards throughout the years from The Morning Call-Best Gift Shop, Best Home Décor, and Best Boutique, to awards from Best of the Valley-Best Unique Gift Shop, Best Small Business, to being featured in Lehigh Valley Style Magazine, this little boutique warmed the hearts of many.
“I love my customers and respect them so much. I would listen to their stories about anything and everything and if someone came in and told me a story about their life that was sad, I would run out to their car and give them something because I wanted to make them feel happier. We weren’t just a store, which is why we have 15 years of wonderful memories. I don’t regret a day,” comments Karen.
More than just a store, Karen and her husband quickly realized their mission was more than their store and continuously gave back to the community by hosting multiple fundraising events for the school districts in the area, health seminars, meditation classes, events for Angel 34, Mother’s Without A Cure, and participated in many other charitable events. They also hosted fashion shows, had Rockin’ Ramaley at their events, psychic nights, wine down Wednesdays with the slogan, “Why go to happy hour when you can be the happy hour,” wine glass painting parties, Christmas and holiday events, fairy hair sessions, and marketed their shop with the help of Charlie and Charlotte, their stick horses that brought laughter to anyone who watched their Facebook Live presentations.
“We have contributed a lot and were a place where women could come in and let their hair down. We hosted lots of fun events that made money for charity and always, always, gave back. I believe in that and believe that there is good out there. Christmas here was so special as well,” says Karen.
Unfortunately, many businesses suffered due to the pandemic, leaving them questioning their future. Missing Piece believes this was the right time to move onward and upward and was given no grants throughout most of the pandemic. They just were approved for one, which may not go through since they will now be online only.
When asked if she was upset about her store closing, Karen replied, “Not super upset about leaving, although I did think I would die here, but I have to tell you, I knew it was time. Customers were calling me crying and I was comforting them telling them that this is a good thing. I want to retire, and when I tell them we are going to be online and continue to do live feeds, they get excited. I’m not going anywhere. I want to vacation, golf with my friends, and be with my husband more, and this will allow me more time to do that,” says Karen.
“I just want to say, like Bob Hope said, ‘Thanks for the memories,’ and as my front door says, enter a stranger, leave as friends; no truer words have ever been spoken. I also want to thank my wonderful staff, they weren’t just people standing around twiddling their thumbs, they love my business and I appreciate all of them,” adds Karen.
Over the next few weeks, Missing Piece will be holding many sales, including participating in the Bushkill Township yard sale. You can stay up to date on their sales through their social media page on Facebook.