Do You Remember Maine’s Iconic Service Merchandise Stores?
Here's a throwback for you. SERVICE MERCHANDISE. Do you remember the picnic store?
What Was Service Merchandise?
Maine had a handful of them back in the day. I remember being on the South Portland and Lewiston stores and we thought they were THE FUTURE of retail! The store wasn't actually a store. It was a showroom. And how you got what you wanted was an amazing journey!
How Did You Shop at Service Merchandise?
When you found something on the showroom floor you wanted, you would write down the model on your little Service Merchandise notepad.
Then you would pay. And then the MAGIC WAIT. You would stand next to the conveyor belt and wait for your item to come through. As the Tom Petty song goes, the waiting is the hardest part!
And for some really big items that were too big for the conveyor belt, you could just bring a store employee the tag, they would go find it for you, and you would pick it up out back.
Service Merchandise had all kinds of great things. Jewelry was big, and so were toys and electronics, like this beautiful microwave for only $144.82. That was a ton of money back in the 1980s!
The centerpiece of the Service Merchandise experience was the catalog. This was a big deal in my family when the catalog arrived.
Check out this very sassy Service Merch commercial. It kind of looks like a Whitesnake video you would've seen on MTV in 1989.
Service Merchandise had a great run; from 1960 until the early 2000s. At its peak in the '70s and '80s, it was a 4 BILLION dollar company. But then the big box stores like Walmart came into Maine, and that, along with the advent of online shopping, was the end of Service Merchandise.
I still think of the store whenever I go by the old location in South Portland. Now it's the spot for the Guitar Center and Dollar Tree by the Mall.